Tiny to undercut Dixons through in-store online sales

Upgrades the route from PC doldrums

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Tiny Computers is planning to ride out the PC market downturn by heavily pushing accessories and peripherals to its customers.

It is putting touch-screen order consoles in each of its shops. Customers then place their order, print off a receipt and return home. Delivery will be in the next three to four days.

Why would a customer not want the instant gratification of leaving a shop carrying their purchase? Price. Tiny is promising Net prices on its range of goods, and to show which competitor its really battling its given this price comparison as an example - Lexmark ink cartridges are on sale from Tiny at £24.99, which Tiny claims is £4 cheaper than Dixons is selling them. That probably wont last for long. The discounts come from the stores not having to hold any stock.

And why wouldn't Tiny customers go online from the comfort of their own home, possibly using their Tiny PC and Tiny as their ISP, to make their purchases? Because customers are still concerned about Net security. Tiny's in-store order screens are linked to Tiny's private network, and not the Internet.

The 'Touch and Buy' system has been piloted at stores in Lakeside, Eastbourne, Darlington, Dundee, Bristol, Dudley, Bury, Trafford and Manchester. It must have worked quite well because its now being rolled out to all stores.

In a statement Tiny marketing director Neil Stevens said: "Some consumers still have concerns about Internet security, and until now, they have had to stump up the heavy mark up our high street competitors dictate. Tiny has tackled this problem by launching 'Touch and Buy', which will ensure we can bring to market more digital entertainment and PC related accessories at unrivalled prices."

Tiny's competition can see merit in the scheme. Jonathan Wall, sales and marketing director, at Dabs.com said: "Interesting concept and one that PC World (for once) pioneered in a way with allowing customers to configure Advent PCs over the web in store and then order online.

"We will watch this one closely as it is like having an instructor for online buyers in a retail environment and Tiny run the risk of persuading their retail customers to buy online and this is an area where they don't have as large a percentage market share that they do offline and some could say not the expertise either."

The Touch and Buy service offers the following range of accessories and peripherals: printers and cartridges, monitors, game pads and games devices, USB CDRW drives, keyboards, graphics tablets, digital cameras, web cams, speakers, DVD accessories, flash memory, and Zip drives. ®

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