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 $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?s
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.