BUY.COM Expands Online Presence

Billed as the one of the Internet’s first e-commerce portals, BUY.COM has said it keeps its customers’ wallets first and foremost in mind when it posts products in its virtual storefronts. The company backed up its claim Tuesday when it announced the opening of an electronic goods surplus store.

The Aliso Viejo, California-based company said BUYSURPLUS.COM, its seventh specialty store, will feature surplus computer goods, televisions, VCR’s stereos and other home electronics goods. It has signed an exclusive deal with Nashville Computer Liquidators, one of the country’s largest surplus computer vendors. NCL will fill all orders directly to consumers, BUY.COM said.

“This latest addition to the BUY.COM Superstore family provides another opportunity for our customers to benefit from our buying power,” said BUY.COM CEO, Greg Hawkins. “As with all our stores, BUYSURPLUS.COM fits well into our philosophy of passing the savings on to our customers.”

Hawkins said the surplus store was opened in response to strong consumer demand. The company intends to open more surplus stores as a variety of products are acquired, it said.

The company’s other stores include BUYSOFT, BUYBOOKS, BUYVIDEOS, BUYMUSIC, BUYGAMES and BUYCOMP.

BUYMUSIC.COM which boasts over 180,000 titles and features Billboard Top 200 CD’s for just $9.95, was unveiled earlier this month.

BUYSURPLUS.COM appears to be a logical match for a company which has a “Below Their Price Guarantee.” It promises consumers a refund if they find another outlet selling products cheaper than BUY.COM.

Company Evolution

In a world where 24 hours passes for eternity, BUY.COM is the graybeard of the bunch. Founded in October 1996 as BUYCOMP.COM, the company has attracted a heavyweight list of executives to serve on its board, including former Apple CEO, John Sculley, as well as a former PepsiCo. CEO, and execs from Hewlett-Packard and TransAmerica.

In keeping with its executive lineage, the company has sought to gain national exposure. It changed its name to BUY.COM in November of last year; just a couple of months before it joined established corporate heavyweights as an advertiser during the Super Bowl telecast between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. That move cost millions, but an audience of 130 million is enticing to any company, particularly an e-commerce firm seeking a surer foothold.

Of course, BUY.COM was riding a bit of a capital investment high at the time. Still privately held — and coyly telling browsers on its Web page that it could go for an IPO in the future — BUY.COM received a $40 million (US$) investment from Internet investment firm SOFTBANK Holdings. That investment gave the firm a 9.9% stake in the company. A SOFTBANK affiliate had taken a 10.25% stake earlier with a separate $20 million investment. That put the total valuation of BUY.COM at $400 million, which the company says is one of the highest pre-IPO valuations in history.

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