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Toshiba Announces Rigid E-commerce Plan

Toshiba has determined its e-commerce strategy, which will go into effect June 1, and it makes strict demands of who gets to sell the company’s products over the Internet. “We will have a defined group of Internet retailers,” said Rick Calacci, vice president of field sales for Toshiba America Consumer Products (TACP). “(To start) it will be brick-and-mortar based,” and will be expanded in a multi-tier process to include other, e-commerce-only retailers.

“This e-commerce agreement will probably be accepted by the brick-and-mortar people with open arms,” Calacci said. “But the Internet-only retailers may not like it, because we are going to be the ones managing the business.” The Internet-only retailers, he said, may not like to be managed. Also, Toshiba distributors will not be allowed to sell to non-approved e-commerce outlets. The penalty “is not being able to business with Toshiba.” Authorized dealers, both brick-and-mortar and “click”-and-mortar, will have a new official dealer logo to display at their stores and their web sites.

Toshiba’s own web site will remain an information source for the company’s products.

In a roundtable discussion with trade press reporters earlier today, Calacci and Scott Ramirez, recently promoted to assistant VP of the TV group at TACP, announced the implementation of the e-commerce strategy and talked about the company’s sales and distribution plans for the coming year.

“We finally achieved the $1 billion sales mark,” said Calacci, referring to 1999 sales. “A real milestone for TACP.” He also said that in 1999, Toshiba became more of a digital home entertainment company. “Last year we led in the HD compatible market, we led in the 16:9 field. Last year, we really turned to more of a higher-end product — and our consumers responded.”

Ramirez said 2000 would likely be a year when the market shows significant change. “This is the first year that we expect analog projection sales to fall to make room for digital sales,” he said. “HD (high definition) compatible models are replacing the high-end analog models in the marketplace.”

In 2000, TACP will be expanding its lineup of HD-ready sets. In 1999 the company had 10 models available. In 2000, it will offer 14. “We’ll continue to have the largest selection of HD-ready models in the industry,” Ramirez said.

He announced that TACP’s long-awaited Cinema Series HD Integrated HDTV model is shipping now. List price is $7,999.99 with dish. It’s HDTV set-top box, the DST-3000 with it’s advanced program guide, is still being tested and is expected to be available in June. The announced list price is $899.99.

But the company will not only focus on the high end. “We want to have a product for every consumer,” Ramirez explained. “Whatever configuration a consumer wants — whether it includes HD-ready, DVD, 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio — we’ll be able to meet that demand.”