Circuit City Begins Online Selling Next Month

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Circuit City will begin selling products directly from its web site next month.

The industry's second largest retailer currently maintains a sweeping, consumer-friendly informational web site at www.circuitcity.com. But beginning in July, a new E-Superstore section will be added that will feature name brand televisions, camcorders, VCRs, stereo equipment and computers. The company said it will initially offer about 700 products, but expects to "sharply expand" its online offerings in advance of the 1999 holiday selling season.

Leveraging its nearly 600 storefronts, Circuit City will give online shoppers the choice of picking up pre-ordered items at its stores or having them delivered directly to their homes. "We learned through our personal computer build-to-order business that the majority of customers for big-ticket products prefer the convenience and security of in-store pick-ups,'' said president Alan McCollough. The flexible delivery and pick-up options are something "only a retailer with a nationwide store base can offer," he said.

Circuit City told investors last January that it intended to add an e-commerce function this year. Its July launch date would coincide with the expected end of a Sony moratorium on online sales of Sony and Mavica products, which it imposed on dealers earlier this season. Meanwhile, Circuit rival Best Buy, which currently sells CDs and DVDs over www.bestbuy.com, appears to be gearing up for bigger things as well. After appointing John Walden president of its e-commerce division in April, the company yesterday revealed plans to revamp its web site and corporate Intranet with a new e-business platform that can accommodate a significant expansion of online product offerings.

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