If you thought the Compaq Stores model is the only new competitor on the IT retail block, then think again. One of the most successful retailers of the last 10 years, the Strathfield Group Limited (SGL), is in the process of rolling out computer hardware and software sections in each of its 100 stores nationally.
Andrew Kelly, SGL's managing director, said last week that the rollout is aimed at delivering complete communications solutions and will be in place early in the new year. He said SGL stores will be stocking brand names (including Compaq) and clones targeting the SME and SOHO customers on its 765,000-strong customer database.
SGL's Queensland operations, including the Brisbane Car Sound and Software Today brands, were completed in August, said Kelly, while a further 40 Sydney and Melbourne (Strathfield Car Sound) stores will be selling computers by November 1. South Australian and Western Australian stores will complete the coverage in January.
"We are looking at about five metres of slat wall which will have room for about four different computers, a whole heap of peripherals and a range of software," Kelly said. "In some stores it is as much as 20 per cent of the display space."
Stage one is limited but the concept will grow as the opportunity or need arises, according to Kelly.
"To offer our SOHO customers a full package is a big milestone for Strathfield," Kelly said. "We sold about 60 or 70 computers last month in Queensland, so we are happy.
"If we sell 10 a month per store, we would be over the moon. I don't know whether that is a lot or not, but multiplied by 100 stores it is 1000 a month. Today that sounds like a lot to me. In 12 months or two years, I might think it is nothing."
Kelly said computer sales were "just incremental revenue for us", and since Strathfield was not selling them a month ago, "it is all bonus revenue" - but revenue that he suggests will become more important as time goes by.