NEW YORK - US Computer retail powerhouse CompUSA last week launched its build-to-order PC business with the release of two lines of PCs.
Customers can now place orders for the CompUSA PC American Pro, or the lower-end CompUSA PC American.
Aiming at a wide range of users - from corporate IS departments to consumers walking off the street into its 134 stores nationwide - the computer retailer is offering a variety of different ways to order the systems.
"One of our goals is to sell PCs any way our customers want to buy them," said Jim Halpin, CompUSA CEO and president.
The retailer is getting into the build-to-order PC business to get a piece of the 40 per cent of the US PC market that is served by direct-sales manufacturers such as Dell, Micron Electronics and Gateway 2000, and local value-added resellers that configure systems for customers, Halpin said.
"The area of the market served by companies like Dell and the local mom and pop shops is the largest and fastest growing area of the industry . . . we can't afford to ignore that," he said.
However, CompUSA's new strategy will now see it competing against some of the PC makers whose products it sells, such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard.
While saying that there would be "overlap" in the potential market for CompUSA PCs and those from major, non-direct selling PC makers, Halpin said that he isn't setting out to compete against companies such as IBM and HP.
"[The major manufacturers] know I can't afford to ignore this market, and I haven't gotten a call from a single COO or CEO asking me what I'm doing," said Halpin.
Consumers can configure and order their systems at the retailer's site: (www.compusa.com).
Customers can do the same at in-store terminals displaying the system, where they can also ask store employees for advice and help.
In addition, CompUSA has trained corporate account managers to help business customers design packages, technical support and training.