August 06, 2006

Multi-Channel Experience at CompUSA

In dire need of acquiring more memory for my wife's notebook computer, I visited www.compusa.com, identified that CompUSA carries the memory I need, failed to print the webpage featuring the memory I wanted, got in my car, and drove thirty miles to the nearest store.

At CompUSA, I failed to see the memory I needed, so I stopped at their repair desk, and asked the nice young lady to help me. The employee paged another employee, who had a key to get into the file cabinet where the memory was stored. Both employees spent five minutes searching for memory for me, before informing me that CompUSA did not carry the 1GB memory that I needed for their PC.

Now, I'll fully acknowledge that I could have done a better job of researching the product online, and I could have driven to the next closest CompUSA store (about 20 miles away), to see if they had the product. Instead, I drove home, and tonight, I plan on ordering memory online.

Ok, all of you multichannel pundits. How should CompUSA run their multichannel business model? Obviously, they cannot have all skus available in their stores, or they would run into enormous inventory issues in their stores, thereby rendering the stores unprofitable. Pundits will tell you that you should be able to order merchandise online, and pickup in the store. However, I wanted my merchandise today, I didn't want to wait a day or two until the merchandise was shipped to the store (and CompUSA does not have this service, to my knowledge).

So how do you think CompUSA should run their multichannel business model, in a way that meets or exceeds customer expectations, but makes certain that CompUSA runs their business profitably? What ideas do you have?