Circuit City Name is Pursued by Successful CompUSA Salvagers

New CompUSA managers using the Web to educate in-store shoppers, and clerks

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The same company that bought the CompUSA name and a few of its stores out of bankruptcy is bidding to buy the name of also-bankrupt Circuit City. Systemax bought the CompUSA name and a few of its stores a couple of years ago.

Both CompUSA and Circuit City are damaged brands. Each earned a reputation for poor service with clerks who didn't know the goods.

Systemax is trying to answer tech clerk ignorance with, believe it or not, technology. The company's confident enough to be slowly expanding the CompUSA, despite the tough times.

Calling it "Retail 2.0," Systemax is hooking all of its stores' PCs, TVs and monitors directly to the Internet. Customers are free to tap the Web to learn about a product, competing products, and even competitors' prices. The chain hopes its clerks learn something, too.

It's a far cry from most retail stores, which try to cut off customers from the Internet. Or, even worse, limit Web access to their own Websites -- sometimes with prices that are reportedly higher than what users would see on their home PCs.

Retail has no choice but to change, CompUSA's Gilbert Fiorentino said recently:

Everything has changed in technology. Nothing has changed in retail, where the same old stores have employees who aren't educated about the products they're selling.

Shoppers will get the online experience inside the store. They will know everything about the product before getting it home and unpackaged.