Buy.com Revamps Business

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Back from the brink of insolvency, Internet superstore buy.com has reinvented itself in anticipation of the holiday selling season by redesigning its Web site, returning to its original low-price policy and stepping up its focus on consumer electronics.

Following a brush with extinction in August after its credit card processing company threatened to pull its services, the e-tailer has created a new site design based on an easy-to-navigate user interface that was created to "simplify the buying process," the company said.

"Whether you're browsing through our site, comparing prices or making a purchase, the new buy.com will give visitors a friendly and hassle-free shopping experience," noted president Robert Price.

The e-tailer is also revisiting its original strategy of building market share by selling goods at minimal margins — a tack that it had moved away from earlier this year amid continuing losses and a plummeting share price. Now, confesses Price, who recently added the presidency to his role as chief financial officer, "We want to give our customers the best deals on the Internet."

To herald the about face, the cyber merchant will mount an aggressive fourth-quarter marketing campaign announcing its return to the "Lowest Prices on Earth," and has begun running a daily promotion dubbed "Price Mistake of the Day."

Central to the effort will be consumer electronics, which now dominates the site's product assortment while other categories like books, sports and jewelry have taken a back seat. "Our new Web site and marketing campaign communicate our intention of making buy.com the number one choice for online shoppers for everything from computer hardware to DVDs," Price said.

Price joined buy.com in February after a $27.4 million fourth-quarter loss prompted the departures of chairman/ CEO Greg Hawkins and 10 percent of the work force. More recently, after its credit card processing company refused to renew its contract, the company was saved from certain shutdown in August when founder Scott Blum agreed to buy buy.com for $23 million.

Buy.com ranked 22nd on TWICE's Top 100 Retail Registry with CE sales of $678 million last year.

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