April 11, 2009, 4:38 PM — Remember CompUSA? The electronics
retailer may have closed up shop in your town, but it never shut down
entirely. As reported by PC World's Tom Spring last January, Systemax
paid US$30 million for select CompUSA assets and retail stores
in a deal that kept 16 CompUSA locations open. Systemax subsidiary
TigerDirect then took over the CompUSA brand, and even converted some TigerDirect stores to CompUSA shops.
Resurrecting a consumer electronics chain with a less-than-stellar
reputation for service and support is a risky move for Systemax, which
figured that TigerDirect could rebuild the brand. It may prove to be a
smart move too. Consumers have short memories, and many will likely
remember the CompUSA name and not the baggage that went with it.
Now Systemax is trying another bold move by allowing customers in its
30 CompUSA stores to surf the Web to comparison shop. According to Wired,
in addition to better lighting and an updated store design, each
CompUSA will have Web terminals that shoppers can use to find cheaper
deals online. But will CompUSA meet or beat the online price?
In-store comparison shopping is a risky move that could drive away
customers who find better deals elsewhere. Then again, it may also draw
customers who appreciate the consumer-friendly approach. I hope the new
CompUSA succeeds. Best Buy needs more brick-and-mortar competitors,
particularly after the recent demise of Circuit City.