Tweeter Home Entertainment Group will enter the e-commerce waters this fall through a 50-50 joint venture with online computer superstore Cyberian Outpost.
The fruits of that partnership will be a new selling site, Tweeter@Outpost.com, that will offer cyber shoppers mid- to high-end consumer electronics products when it launches this fall.
For Tweeter - which has been stretching its "terrestrial" legs this year with the acquisitions of retailers Home Entertainment and DOW Stereo/Video - the move marks its first stab at online sales. The specialty retailer, which made a $1 million equity investment in Cyberian as part of the deal, currently maintains an information-only web site at www.tweeter.com.
Publicly-traded Cyberian was founded in 1995 by CEO Darryl Peck. The Kent, Conn.-based company operates Outpost.com, a computer hardware, software and accessories site for consumers, small office/home office users and corporate, government and educational institutions. Cyberian is on the short list of online merchants to make the TWICE 1999 Retail Registry, ranking 81st based on CE sales of $68 million last year - a 278% leap over prior year revenues.
According to the partners, one of Tweeter@Outpost.com's greatest assets will be a fully authorized product assortment born of Tweeter's longstanding relationships with leading manufacturers. Tweeter will also bring its training organization to bear on the new enterprise, which will offer at least 120 hours per week of live, educated sales support.
For its part, Cyberian will share its pick, pack and ship operations, call-center facilities, and Internet know-how in technology and merchandising.
According to Tweeter president Jeff Stone, the joint venture will raise the standard of CE cyber selling above the "grey goods retailers who are tarnishing the price/value equation and offering little, if any, service to the customer." Among its goals: support of vendor IMAP policies, pre- and post-sale service and a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy.