Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lessons to be learned from CompUSA

CompUSA has announced that it will be closing the remainder of it's stores at the first of the year. For those of us that have been watching this company, it is a surprise that it has made it this long (but then again K-Mart keeps going too).

The stores suffered not only due to issues within the stores but also with corporate management. The corporation could not decided what they wanted the stores to be. When they were not successful they looked to another successful chain and try to copy them instead of finding their own direction.

Today we will look at what the stores were and what they tried to be so that you can avoid the pitfalls that CompUSA made.

Just looking at the name you figure that CompUSA sells computers and computer supplies and that is what they started out doing. They also offered training and had a fairly good business department for many years.

However over the last few years (especially the last couple) CompUSA started losing their focus. They saw the success of Best Buy and like many companies instead of following their own path tried to copy someone else's and it failed.

Over the last year many of its stores have been remodeled and now look like a low end Best Buy. Instead of focusing on what they did best they tried to be all things to all people and started doing everything very poorly. Their business sector started to suffer which started costing them those type of customers.

In the end the store become the store for no one. The business people who used to buy their computer supplies there went elsewhere. The computer geeks could no longer find the supplies they need so they went to companies online like New Egg. Finally, the marketing they tried to attract with high end products such as LCD and Plasma TV's sought out stores with better customer service and a better selection. In the end CompUSA satisfied no one.

Once again it goes back to finding your niche, and sticking to it. While you can add items and possible move up or down, but do not alienate your existing customer base. While stores like Nordstrom and Wal-Mart can make mistakes and survive, you cannot afford to make mistakes like this.

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