February 2, 2001, 12:00 AM

Completing the circuit

One of CircuitCity.com`s most popular features is pick up at the store and return to the store. "It`s been a winner from the start," says an executive.

All the buzz these days is about the importance of maintaining multiple channels. Circuit City, which has operated a web store since July 1999, offers evidence that retailers can use a multi-channel approach to entice online buyers into on-land stores.

Half the customers who buy merchandise at Circuitcity.com pick up their purchases at Circuit City stores, George Barr, director of Internet merchandising, told the National Retail Federation Annual Convention in January. Even when Circuit City offers free shipping, as it did during the holidays, 30% of customers pick up their purchases. Customers like controlling the process and the notion of having the goods right away and on their own schedule. “People don’t want to wait for UPS,” Barr said. “Store pickup has been a winning application from the start.”

Circuit City is planning yet another multi-channel approach in selling cellular phones. Customers will consult Circuit City’s web site to see what cell service is available in their city, determine the plan and the phone they want, print out the specifications, then go to the story to buy it.

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