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× To Open Computer Store This Fall

SEATTLE — is not being deterred by the rough and tumble PC retail market and is intent on giving customers a new way to shop for computers when it opens an online PC store later this year.

PCs are the last piece of the technology puzzle the giant online store needed to carry, said Carl Gish, Amazon’s electronics VP. Amazon is not put off by the dismal PC sales expected for the remainder of the year. IDC, Framingham, Mass., just downgraded its forecast and expects consumer sales and PC shipments to decrease for 2001. Gish said the online segment of the PC market is the only area doing well.

Amazon’s customers were calling for it to start selling PCs and there is the natural connection with the computer software and peripherals that the company already sells, Gish said. Computer customers will find products from the Electronic, Computer and Camera stores on the PC store site and selling PCs should boost sales of these items, as well.

“We will make it easy for them to buy exactly what they need,” Gish said. did not specify what brands would be sold, but Gish said the company already has a strategic partnership with Hewlett-Packard and is holding talks with all the other major PC makers. Notebook computers also will be carried.

“We will launch with a comprehensive list of vendors,” Gish said.

While a firm date for the site’s launch has not been picked, Gish said he hoped it would be running in time for the holiday selling season. The store, which has not received an official name, will offer pre-configured PC systems, such as those found in brick & mortar stores, and some type of configure-to-order program where consumers can pick and choose the PC’s components. It will be set up along the same lines as the retailer’s other stand-alone online stores with its own URL and link on Amazon.

Gish said is now developing a way to deliver the same type of buying experience customers now enjoy at the other Amazon stores, such as reviews.

“Customers will have a buying experience that is personalized. We will have the ability to help people to put together the right PC package for them,” he said, adding gamers will be directed one way while those interested in digital imaging will have other configurations suggested.