Just Like Multiplatform Networks
Not unlike many of todays multivendor, multiplatform computer networks, its not nearly as common for one component in an elaborate entertainment system to fail as it is for one component to be conflicting with another component. Calls to any of those manufacturers are often going to be more frustrating than helpful.Tweeter is trying to build a business around being able to diagnose and fix any problem within a home entertainment system, regardless of whether the culprit components were sold by them.The 32-year-old chains WAN is connected by an AT&T frame relay to every store (512K) and every regional office/warehouse (a full T-1). The main systems are Windows 2003-based with a smattering of IBM applications, including AIX DB2. "We are not an Oracle shop," Morrison said. Morrisons primary headache? When any company moves into uncharted territory, there is going to be very little off-the-shelf packages to help. "One of our biggest IT hurdles is that we didnt have the infrastructure in place. Theres not a system out there that is the perfect installation system," he said.The Canton, Mass.-based company is also partnering its equipment sales and service with working with entertainment content, such as is available from cable, satellite and DVD. Tweeter is very interested in and is "continually monitoring" the RFID space, but it hasnt made the move yet and is waiting for tag prices to drop more and for rivals to identify most of the pain points. "We absolutely do not want to be first. We want to be second or third," Morrison said. Will retailers get buried under RFID data? To find out, click here. Far from the tight online/offline integration that a lot of retailers are struggling with today, Tweeter keeps its two channels absolutely separate, even to the extent of outsourcing all e-commerce "so they do the processing of our orders. Our channels simply do not mix right now," Morrison said.That is a temporary situation, though. Some Tweeter brick-and-mortar locations already have what Morrison described as a kiosk, but what is in reality a series of PCs that display Tweeters Web siteand only Tweeters Web sitefor the convenience of in-store shoppers. Morrison said he would very much like to move to online purchase, in-store pickup, which means hell have to get into the traditional online-offline integration difficulties. For now, though, Tweeter is hoping that a home integration solution focus will make the chain feel a lot less surrounded and moreforgive ussurround-sounded. Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.
Online sales this year are expected to increase sharply, but a study finds a big catch. To hear more, click here.