GetPlugged.com Joins E-commerce Stampede

Westlake Village, California-based KnowledgeLINK has announced a mid-September debut for GetPlugged.com, its e-commerce website. KnowledgeLINK says that the site, presently under construction, will offer a wide variety of mid- to high-end home entertainment products, and "in-depth guidance" for consumers interested in buying them. The company also states that its site's network of affiliated dealers and custom installers will work with customers to ensure that they get the best use of their purchases.

GetPlugged.com is one of many Internet startups attempting to combine information and commerce. Coolaudio.com (see recent report) has a similar profile, and new sites seem to pop up weekly (see related story). GetPlugged will attempt to differentiate itself from the crowd by offering "a deeply interactive website" where the consumer is asked a series of questions about needs, budget, and goals—exactly the sort of thing any live retail salesperson would ask in a brick-and-mortar store. The company says a "profile" will be compiled from the answers, and solutions offered—presumably from the list of GetPlugged.com's available products. An August 1 press release emphasizes that one of GetPlugged's key features is its stable of "some of the industry's most respected experts . . . secured to answer consumer inquiries." The unnamed experts will then recommend systems or components—again, exactly like retail salespeople.

Once customers' questions have been answered, the company says they will be linked to affiliated dealers in their area. GetPlugged feels that, unlike some of the other e-commerce sites, which are basically engaged in direct sales, its approach is a bridge between the old distribution model of geographical territory and the dawning one of global sales. By including dealers in its business model, GetPlugged plans to take advantage of an existing resource—possibly boosting business for its associated dealers and installers, and avoiding alienating manufacturers by not violating established territories. GetPlugged reports that it also plans to provide its users with "notebooks," or databases, where they can archive all their research.

Company founder Sunil Mehrotra hopes that GetPlugged will help create a new generation of well-informed audio-and-video fans. "With so many new technologies confronting them, it's no wonder that most consumers feel intimidated before entering a showroom—in too many cases, they never do," he says. "GetPlugged.com's mission is to offer consumers the personal service that specialty audio dealers have been delivering for decades—but from a unique, controllable environment: the consumer's home or office."

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