Thomson Outlines Its Policies On Selling Its Products Online

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Thomson executives, like their counterparts with Pioneer Electronics and Harman Consumer Group (see related story), took the opportunity during their press briefing to discuss e-commerce sales policy.

Thomson is allowing its authorized dealers to sell on the web and has been shipping directly to Amazon.com. Senior executive VP Jim Meyer said, "I don't know how many of our products Circuit City has, but it is a lot." And a company spokesperson confirmed that Thomson has been shipping directly to Amazon.com.

The main concern of brick-&-mortar dealers is price, Meyer maintained: "If [an e-tailer's price] is one dollar below theirs, then they are upset. If it is priced exactly the same, then there is very little discussion. It is almost like the discussions of 10 years ago when Circuit City and Best Buy came into markets and were priced than the traditional distribution that was already there."

Meyer said there are certain retailers "we choose not to sell. The law tells us we can do that. There will be certain e-tailers we choose not to sell because we don't believe their distribution enhances our brand, our customer base, or our other distribution. That's our decision."

"We sold product direct to Amazon to be a part of their launch," continued Meyer. "Where they choose to sell it is their decision, not ours." He maintained that the company does not yet have a policy on whether an e-tailer is free to sell a product at whatever cost they choose.

However, Eric Schulenburg, new U.S. sales VP for Thomson, commented on unauthorized e-tailing of company products by saying, "We use basically the same policy we have with any dealer. We ship to a dealer structure and we prohibit transshipping of our products to anybody, whether it's to a web retailer or any other retailer mechanism."

If someone breaks the rules and is involved in transshipping, Meyer said, "We try to find out who is breaking the rules and have a legal discussion with them. So far, it has not been that big of an issue. We have a stated policy with our dealer community that we do not endorse [transshipping], and it is part of our dealer agreement to not sub-distribute our products." -- Greg Tarr

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