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September 17, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 4:24pm

COMPUSA THROWS ITS HAT IN DIRECT SALES BTO RING

By CBR Staff Writer

Computer retailing giant CompUSA is tired of missing the estimated 40% of the PC market that falls into the hands of companies like Dell Computer Corp and Gateway 2000 Inc, and has officially entered into the direct sales build-to-order arena with two lines of branded PCs. The new CompUSAPC unit had its coming out party in New York on Wednesday, launching its American and American Pro lines, which it will sell in addition to the brands it already carries in its 134 superstores across the US. Assembly of the PCs will be handled by three unnamed contract manufacturers, leaving CompUSA with virtually no inventory risk. CompUSA feels it will now be able to compete favorably in all market segments, as its will be able to leverage its economies of scale, sales force and large advertising budget to undercut companies like Gateway or Micron by 5% to 10%. CEO Jim Halpin says that the company should be able to accept lower margins and still make a profit, although margins on CompUSA systems will be slightly better than those of the other brands it retails. All of the machines will come with an Intel processor as well as a Microsoft mouse and either Windows 95 or Windows NT. The top-end American Pro line features Intel chassis and motherboards and MMX Pentiums from 166MHz to 233MHz or Pentium IIs from 233MHz to 300MHz. Prices range from $1,200 to $4,000. The value-segment American line features 150MHz to 233MHz Pentiums and 233MHz to 300Mhz Pentium II, but the chassis and motherboards aren’t Intel made. Prices range from $700 to $3,500. All prices depend on the configuration and accessories the customer chooses and do not include a monitor. The PCs will be available through the CompUSA website, through an online configuration system, or through in- store configuration terminals. Customers choose the options they want and after receiving a price quote, can order a system to be delivered within five business days. Phone orders and sales through the company’s corporate sales force of 1,400 are also options. All the machines are backed by three-year parts and one- year on-site labor warranties.

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