Several Audio Manufacturers Join the Online Retailing Stampede

The Internet is beginning to pose quite a dilemma for high-end audio manufacturers, especially ones with limited distribution in major markets such as the US. Do you risk alienating potential bricks-and-mortar dealers in an effort to gain widespread exposure by offering your products online? Or do you slowly build distribution through the traditional stores that for years have been high-end audio's haven?

Several companies are now opting for an online strategy and have signed exclusive and selective North and South American distribution rights with, according to a recent statement. claims that by combining the convenience of the Internet with a local dealer/installer network, they'll be able to provide sufficient levels of customer service and support, both on- and offline, for the audio and video home entertainment market. says its web store will launch in early August.

Manufacturers making the jump to online sales include Chord Electronics, Roksan, Wilson Benesch, BC-Acoustique, and Audes, an Estonian speaker manufacturer that uses a facility formerly used to produce Soviet MiG fighter jets. In addition to these brands, says it will also offer Toshiba and Harman/Kardon.

Although is headquartered in New York, the company says it will have fulfillment and customer-support operations in Seattle, Washington and Fredricksburg, Virginia. The company also states that it is building a nationwide dealer/installer organization to augment its service and support network.

The company claims its website will be designed for novices and experts alike, and "the product content will be free of technical jargon." The site, currently under development, is planning to offer both real-time online and telephone technical support seven days a week. To this end, says it is actively recruiting a national network of audio/video dealers and system installers to support customers at the local level. The company's intention is to offer on-site installation and repair services through affiliate "CoolDealers" and "CoolInstallers."