buy.com opened its doors yesterday, as expected, heralding the latest twist in the business model battle of Internet economy e-tailers.
Dripping with money, the glitzy launch suggested everything you would expect from a cashed-up e-tailer boasting over 20,000 products at launch including printers, electronics, mobile phones and office supplies.
In true "virtual" style, buy.com pitched a temporary, but glamourous marquee, on the roof of Sydney's Broadway retail shopping centre complete with a huge sound and light display, lounges, a bar, stage and outdoor entertainment area.
The launch party last night was by all accounts "very Manhattan" as the Sydney skyline served the perfect backdrop to an event apparently aimed at bringing us the best of the US and more.buy.com Australia is a joint venture between buy.com and the Softbank and epartners joint venture, eVentures.
The company claims its unique value proposition to e-commerce shoppers of Australia is the combination of price (up to 20 per cent off), huge product range, an information-rich site, flexible delivery (which includes an installation service) and 24 hour call-centre based customer service.buy.com's CEO, Richard Baillie, boasted amid the fanfare last night the portal is chasing a market estimated by www.consult to be worth $3 billion this year, with 3.8 million people buying over the Internet.
"The next generation of e-tail, real e-tail, is open for business," Baillie announced.
He said buy.com's advantage is not only its successful US e-tail model, but the ability to be "easily scalable" to match customer growth rates. Like all e-tailers, buy.com enjoys savings in not owning warehouses or retail stores.
However, as its impressive advertising campaign unveiled last night illustrates, it must fund an expensive customer-acquisition marketing plan to compete with the likes of estore, dstore, and ozbuy.com.
The e-tailer also has operations in the US, UK and Canada. An ongoing legal battle with what some critics have simply labelled a local cybersquatter meant it was unable to secure the buy.com.au domain. Visitors to buy.com are directed to au.buy.com.