Circuit City Stores Inc., a latecomer to the booming Internet shopping scene, said yesterday that it will begin selling computers, televisions and other products next month at a new cyberstore.
The Richmond-based consumer electronics retailer initially will offer a limited selection of about 700 products. The company said it plans to increase its online offerings in time for the end-of-the-year holiday shopping season.
Circuit City said it will integrate its store distribution system and its Internet operations, allowing online shoppers to have larger products, such as refrigerators, delivered to their homes and installed. But customers also can avoid shipping and delivery charges by picking up preordered items.
With nearly 600 stores, Circuit City may be one of the leading retailers in the real world, but in cyberspace it is playing catch-up. Its biggest brick-and-mortar rival, Best Buy Co., has been selling compact discs, DVD movies and other products online since last year.
Both Best Buy and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plan to beef up their online selection of consumer electronics. Circuit City's other competitors include purely Internet retailers such as 800.com and manufacturers such as Dell Computer Corp.
"They're definitely late," Kate Delhagen, a research director for Forrester Research, said of the Circuit City announcement.
Circuit City spokesman Morgan Stewart said the retailer had long considered going online. "The fact is, we're very careful and calculated in the way we do our business," he said.
Sales on the Internet are expected to more than double in the fourth quarter, to $10 billion, from $3.5 billion in the year-earlier period, according to Forrester Research.