More Manufacturers Join the World Wide Web Club

While it's not exactly a stampede just yet, a small dust cloud is rising as several consumer-electronics manufacturers head toward the Internet to sell products. Last week, citing the need to "maintain the highest quality customer service in the new e-commerce era," Denon Electronics joined the online sales herd. In an effort to keep track of e-commerce vendors, the company has announced that it will establish a separate authorization agreement for retailers handling Denon and/or Mission products on the Internet.

Denon's Stephen Baker states that "E-commerce is an exciting new frontier for consumers and for Denon, but we are adamant that consumers purchasing Denon products via the Web receive the same level of value-added service and information they receive from traditional brick-and-mortar outlets." Baker adds that "only by establishing specific criteria for online retailers can we be assured of maintaining our reputation for excellence."

In the initial stages of its e-commerce rollout, Denon says it will choose its online retailers from the ranks of its brick-and-mortar accounts. The company states that retailers will be selected based on their capability to meet "rigorous" standards, including: a dedicated Internet staff with live technical assistance available a minimum of 12 hours a day, six days a week; in-house Denon authorized service; assurance that all items offered for sale on the websites are kept in stock; prohibition of auctions or shipments to other resellers; prompt shipment with access to order tracking; and secure transactions.

Denon's approach of using only currently authorized brick-and-mortar dealers differs from the tack taken by most manufacturers who have gone to online sales so far. Last week, Celestion announced their commitment to an exclusive online distributor (see previous story), and several audio manufacturers—including Roksan, Chord, and Wilson Benesch—have been signing up with online-only startups, some of which work with dealer networks around the world.