July 9, 2008, 12:00 AM

Digital converter boxes help SolidSignal.com tune in record web sales

The mandate for consumers to replace their old television with a new digital model or buy a converter box is turning into big business for SolidSignal.com. The electronics-related gear retailer expects web sales to grow by at least 69% in 2008.

The mandate for consumers to replace their old television with a new digital model or buy a digitally enabled converter box is turning into big business for SolidSignal.com, a niche retailer of electronics-related gear.

By next Feb. 17, consumers must make their TVs capable of accepting digitally enhanced TV signals. SolidSignal.com, No. 493 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, saw the deadline coming, prepared an abundant inventory and is now selling almost 10,000 converter boxes every 30 days, nearly double the number the retailer sold just several months ago.

As a result, SolidSignal.com expects its overall e-commerce sales to grow by at least 69% in 2008 to $12 million from $7.1 million in 2007. “If we aren’t selling 20,000 converter boxes each month as we get close to the deadline next fall and close out this year with sales north of $12 million, I will be very surprised,” says SolidSignal.com president Jerry Chapman.

SolidSignal.com has been preparing for several years for an anticipated rush for digital converter boxes. In November the company, based in Novi, MI, moved into a new 20,000-square-foot fulfillment center and hired seven new full-time employees to handle the increased volume of orders. “I expect to add another three to five employees before February,” says Chapman.

Despite the emphasis on one product for now, SolidSignal.com is diversified and stocks more than 5,000 products, including TV satellite gear, cable and wire supplies, LCD and plasma TVs and other gear. “We’ve been preparing for this for years,” Chapman says. “All of our eggs aren’t in one basket. We finance ourselves through our existing cash flow and know how to sell to a niche audience. We will keep on growing after this digital converter box sales momentum is in the past.”

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