Egghead Computer (EGGS)
today continued its push into e-commerce and its retreat from
selling hardware and software at its actual stores, in an attempt to
resuscitate itself after several turbulent quarters.
The company has been forced to close stores and beef up its online offerings
as direct marketers of PCs, such as Dell
and Gateway 2000, become more and
more successful at luring technology-savvy customers away from Egghead's
The software and hardware retailer has added avatars, graphical icons
that will appear as salespeople on the virtual store. The avatars will be
online during the hours posted on the store's home page, and will answer
customers' questions and assist them with purchases.
The virtual salespeople were built using real-time multimedia communication
software from The Palace.
"Our virtual storefront, staffed with salespeople you can talk to, is the
solution to the lack of interactivity found on most commerce sites," said
Steve Gere, Internet strategic planner for Egghead, in a statement today.
This is Egghead's second attempt to advance into the direct channel by
revamping its site. In September, Egghead added features that allowed users
to see inventory and product information in real time. Egghead also added
an electronic "shopping cart," to save consumers the hassle of downloading
each software title as it is purchased.
The retailer also acquired direct PC marketer Surplus Direct in September,
following the shut-down of half of its 156 stores in January.
Egghead improved its balance sheet for the first quarter of this year,
posting a net loss of $3.7 million, compared to a loss of $12.4 million
for the first quarter last year. The company attributed the improvement to
the money saved by the closing of the stores.
Egghead also announced today that it will begin offering special events
at its online store. The retailer additionally will offer discounts to
those who attend the online events.