Sony Launches E-Commerce Site - Twice

Sony Launches E-Commerce Site

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PARK RIDGE, N.J. -- Sony said it will begin selling a wide assortment of competitively priced CE products directly to consumers via SonyStyle.com, the company's forthcoming b-to-c e-commerce site.

Today's scheduled soft launch was delayed until at least next week by a technical glitch, the company said.

Sony said the web site will initially offer about 700 of its products at street price, and will ultimately expand the selection to include all 2,000 SKUs within its line.

The site, which is being beta tested through early fall, also features music downloads, editorial content including product information, tutorials and news, and will eventually offer financing plans, Sony-branded ISP service and, possibly, extended service contracts. The soft launch will be followed by a heavily promoted public debut in September or October, when the cyber shop will be accessible directly at www.sonystyle.com. Until then, visitors can reach the beta site through the electronics section of Sony's corporate site at www.sel.sony.com.

Sony dealers, who were apprised of their supplier's plans through meetings, letters and phone calls, appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach to Sony's direct-sell solution. Robert Ashcroft, president and CEO of Sony Electronics e-Solutions Co., the new Sony division charged with running the e-commerce operation, acknowledged that channel conflict with authorized dealers would be a major challenge for the manufacturer. "We sought to find a win-win with our retail partners, and we hope they will see it as we do," he said. "It's not just about purchases, it's also about information transfer. We're responding to consumers' desire to understand more about our products."

Educating consumers, he noted, "will prime them for a sale."

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