Guitar Center sells online at last

Although Guitar Center has had a Website since 1995, visitors could not buy product from the site. But in late June the Westlake Village, CA-based retailer of musical instruments and gear relaunched as an e-commerce site.

Guitar Center is no stranger to e-commerce, however. It owns Medford, OR-based cataloger Musician’s Friend, which has had a transactional site since 1998. “We learned a lot from Musician’s Friend, which already had experienced many of the technological issues of e-commerce,” says Guitar Center vice president Richard Pidanick. “Musician’s Friend also had insights regarding the necessary infrastructure, analytic tools, and Web technology required to optimize the Website.”

One might think that since the award-winning Musician’s Friend is already so successful, there was no need for the company to launch a competing site. But Pidanick says the Guitar Center Website is intended in part “to grow the Guitar Center brand as a world-class, multichannel retailer firmly entrenched in the music community serving the needs of musicians from all genres of music.”

Pidanick also sees the new e-commerce site as a customer acquisition vehicle. “We can introduce new customers to Guitar Center through our online marketing efforts,” he says. “We mirror the brick-and-mortar marketing plan, special financing offers, product launches, daily and weekly events, and give-aways.”

What’s more, Pidanick says, “even though we currently have 191 retail locations, this opens up the Guitar Center buying experience to customers in areas where we presently do not have brick-and-mortar stores, as well as access to purchase 24/7.”

In the few months that the revamped Website has been functioning, early feedback has been positive, Pidanick says, and sales have met expectations. Guitar Center is now “building out” the second phase of its Web strategy, which will allow customers to buy and redeem gift cards online, order via in-store kiosks, and make a purchase in one channel and if necessary return it via a different channel.

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