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Blockbuster Casts Eye Toward Hardware

3 Jan, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner


Blockbuster Video is casting an eye toward hardware sales as the chain prepares to review a trial arrangement that put Radio Shack mini-stores into 130 blockbuster stores, but the company has yet to make any decisions.

"The customers have really gravitated toward the home entertainment-centric products -- DVD, VHS, cables and plugs, anything home entertainment related," says Karen Raskopf, Blockbuster's s.v,p of Corporate Communications.

That has been true not only of the Radio Shack store-within-a-stores, which have footprints ranging from 150 to 600 square feet each, but of Blockbuster's own hardware sales tests.

"This past summer, in about 2,000 stores, we put in DVD/VHS combo units," Raskopf says. "We sold through those very quickly. The sales on those were beyond our expectations. What we as a company are seeing is that we have the brand, the store distribution network and 3 million customers on average a day that are hungry for home entertainment. They are showing that they want to get those products and services from us."

The chain began offering DirecTV about two years ago and has become the second largest vendor for the satellite carrier. Further evidence of consumer demand, she says, comes from overseas, where Blockbuster has had good response to selling home entertainment consoles and cellular phone service. "This would be a logical complement to our core business," Raskopf says.

Though decisions are still weeks away, possibilities include Blockbuster getting into hardware on a limited basis or broadening the deal with Radio Shack. The chain is not looking at widespread rental of players or game consoles, she says. The chain isn't looking at selling big screen TVs either, she says, but, "Never say never."<

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