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  1. #1
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    What features would you like in a computer store?

    A friend of mine and I are in the early stages of opening up a computer store together, and we are drawing up our business plan, and whanot. so I was wondering. If a new computer shop opened up in town (or in your area) what are some features you would expect it to have, and some features you would like it to have? We already have a few things like:

    Email notifications on ordered parts, and status of systems being built
    Home delivery and installation service, as well as a house call style repair service
    warranties and blah blah..

    All the standard stuff. So what are some features that you think might bring you in the door? or generate a little good word-of-mouth?
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  3. #2
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    As with any good over-the-counter business, friendly customer service is what really makes sales next to price and marketing, you got to make sure you guys are familiar with your products and can provide an unbiased solution to your customer as well as answer any questions they may have.

    One thing i wish some stores had is a terminal that would have easy access to online reviews of the products available in your catalogue. That surely would've made some purchasing decisions alot easier.

  4. #3
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    The store we go to (me and most of the ppl i know) have slightly higher prices than other stores, but they do not try to sell you outdated / cheap computer parts like other stores are prone to. The people there actually really know computers well, as compared to just reading computer mags and behaving nerdy. They repair your computer fast and for free when you have a smaller problem and bought it there. Just think very, very costumer friendly.

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  6. #5
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    To not be assaulted by the 'can I help you man' as soon as you walk in would be nice

    A professional and clean layout can help in by bringing in people that are not familiar with computers that much. Cluttered up store windows with big intel stickers do not look that welcoming.

  7. #6
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    You might want to offer "idiot proofing" as an optional freebie for less clued-up users.
    By that I mean that before they even take their pc out of the shop, the OS is patched up, there's a virus scanner and firewall running and set to update themselves automatically, IE security settings tweaked, alternate browser such as FF or Opera prominently displayed on desktop, spare media player such as VLC, spybot / adaware pre- installed and updated etc.
    Basically, just make it as difficult as possible for them to break the thing.

    Don't call it idiotproofing obviously..."Security enhanced" or something..

    Oh yeah, and if I pop in, please do not try and sell me a "3-year extended insurance coverplan" on the 30quid scanner I just bought, especially when said plan is more expensive than just buying a brand new scanner..

  8. #7
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    linux as a choise for operating system on computers? I mean for free.
    but otherwise, i would like to see some test setups, i never seen wacoms open for testing in any store for example.
    and sell up to date stuff, also as people said, don't try selling old shitty stuff to people, i hate stores that try too fool people.
    and the first and only, baraboom, webshop (this is soo important i think) if you want to just not sell to the people who comes by.

  9. #8
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    Why not try something a little different. Most computer stores are dull and all look the same. Have something different, something that will make the people think wow this place is so relaxed and cheery. Also there are alot of people these days that dont know their specs or infact anything about computers. Dont overpower people with tonnes of information try to make it simple. Infact why not have a board saying what they mean in the most basic way possible.

    hope that helped.
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  10. #9
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    I like customizing my machine myself and many stores now only have already built puters and stare at you weird when you ask if they have barebones or start asking precise questions about the motherboard and such. They stare at you weirder when you are a GIRL and ask questions about motherboards.

  11. #10
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    Just be real, and don't act like an annoying salesperson trying to sell gimmicky junk. You should also build a small computer network to play multiplayer games on. Then charge people an hourly rate or monthly membership to play. If you can afford to set it up it's a great way to show off systems you can build, and bring in potential customers.

  12. #11
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    Yeah, have like a "Lan Pit" or something. 4-6 computers that are relativley inexpensive (so you can be like "This only costs about 800, but it runs x-game perfectly.") running Counter-strike or Call of Duty, it would make a great hang out, and by charging money you'd get profit as well as word of mouth advertising.
    I'd also suggest a training cirriculum for your employees that teaches them how to "Dumb" things down. Stuff like changing the words "120 Gig HD" to "Plenty of space to save things, photos, music, videos, etc.", Whenever my parents try to buy computers they have to ask me what RAM is and the difference between Mega and Giga, and about processors and clock speed and stuff.

    Also, a good variety of music- not alternative or rock or emo or country or smooth jazz, maybe some slower trance songs- kinda like the music from Jet Set radio, only not quite as tacky. I hate going into stores playing country music... Thought that's more of a personal decision =P

    And also maybe hold in-store seminars every so often about "computer education", like how to safely build your own computer, how to match the parts, or how to use certain programs.

    </rambling>

  13. #12
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    Thanks for the feedback guys! And whoa was it quick... To answer some of your questions though, we have thought of some of these features.

    Scri-boi - Customer service is the name of the game isn't it? The town I am from, and where the shop will be opened is relatively small, and there are three other computer shops in town already. But their customer service SUCKS (which is actually one of the biggest things that prompted us to open this shop, because we both worked at two of them, and dealt with the other on a regular basis). So customer service is definately up there on the list of things to make good. Thanks

    John - We basically thought somewhat along those lines - quality parts, even if it ends up being a little more expensive. The three shops I mentioned in my reply to sci-boi were natorious for using cheap/crappy/ or USED parts, which are some things we are avoiding like the plague.

    glynn james - Office space is a huge factor in this. but one thing we hope to accomplish is a clean professional layout. And roger that on avoiding the big manufacturers ad's and whatnot. That thought hadn't really crossed our minds.

    Flake - Idiot profing is a definate. The "package" (so to speak) we are currently planning to include with EVERY windows install, and will offer with each repair is installing: Firefox web browser, Spybot Search and Destroy, patching and updating windows if it's needed, and enabling windows default firewall. We are debating options for anti-virus software. We are also talking about including Open Office as an optional freebie since.. well.. it's free, and an excellent alternative to buying a costly microsoft office suite (while not loosing the compatibility).

    Failoniir - Offering Linux as an alternative sounds like a great idea! I had thought about that a few times back when I was working for our soon to be competitors, but never put much thought into it. The reason being is most people who ever did any sort of notable business there were small businesses who just wanted systems they could do their work on, and never have to worry about compatibility issues, and old folks or coal miners who wanted something to surf the net with. But it also seems likely that by offering alternative operating systems, it could draw a larger, more diverse customer base. Thanks for reaffirming that! As for the website idea. We actually already have a guy writing the website for us (for free even.. his idea, not ours).

    Mr. Man - I agree that overpowering or intimidating people with technical jargon when they just want to know what gb in 100gb hard drive means. The little translation board idea might not be so bad. I would just be a little apprehensive about putting a board like that up for fear of making customers feel stupid that there has to be a board up dumbing things down for them. It is definately something to keep in mind though, and can always be put up later if need be.

    qitsune - The plan we have now as far as system options are concerned is this: We will have 5 systems, an entry level basic system, a medium/low end system, a mid range system, a medium/high end, and a high end system (two versions of the high end, actually, one gaming oriented and one work station oriented). We haven't taken down any technical specs on the systems, because it would be silly to make our tech specs now and have it be outdated in 9 months or a year when we plan to get our office space squared away. But each system will be fully customizable, although non-standard parts will have to be ordered special (non standard meaning anything that can't be interchanged between a high end and a mid/high ,for example, to make the mid/high a little beefier). We want the customers to have the option of total customization if they want, but don't want to overwhelm less knowledgable customers at the same time. So right now it is somewhat similar to the way ibuypower.com does it, except there will be more customization options.

    JF Walls and Justin Oaksford - We have talked a lot about having a multiplayer "LAN pit", and have come to a more/less definate decision to NOT include one of those. Reason being is that one of the shops we used to work for had one of those, and the kids would come in and pay for an hour of gaming, and it was impossible to conduct business with customers who were actually looking to buy a computer, because the kids would start to get excited (and by kids i mean ranging from kids to high schoolers, to even adults that came in) and they would yell, and cuss, and just carry on. Kicking them out of the store would result in bad word of mouth, and asking them to be quiet usually resulted in about 12 seconds of peace before it started up again. Also after gaming sessions the place would be a mess. So unless we can hire people to supervise the gamers at all times, the lanpit idea is a definate no. It is a good idea - a really good idea if you can get the people playing the games to respect the other customers in the store.. But it's not worth the potential for loss.

    Thanks a lot everyone! Really, this feedback is most appreciated.

    Any more thoughts and ideas are more than welcome.
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  14. #13
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    Ok heres a small rant.

    When i got the computer i have now i didnt know that much about computers but i did know what i wanted and kind of knew what i needed. So when i asked for the parts they were talking back to me almost all the time and saying "why do you need that much memory? do you really think you need it? i dont thing you do". Sure if they were recommending me stuff i would be glad to listen but they had a really bad attitude about it. REally making or trying to make me look like an idiot. Even one of my parents almost flipped when the guy started to laugh at me when i talked about what i used the computer for and that i wanted a really fast cpu, HE LAUGHED AND looked at his buddy.


    GODASNFDJLHAsgjksdhgshDJ:::::::.....


    Altough i realise that he hasnt ever got laid and probably is a lonely person that masturbate him self to sleep everynight and making me look like an idiot probably made him feel better. But please...please....dont act like that.

  15. #14
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    Wow.. I mean.. Holy shit man. Please tell me that place went under? That reminds me a lot of one of the two places we worked for. The owners like to belittle customers with crappy service, and something I can only describe as "anti knowledge". As an example I had to rebuild a computer for a guy (privately) who has the owners build him a system (before I worked there). They neglected to put a heatsink and HS fan on.. Needless to say his processor fried within seconds, and they claimed it was the guys fault for not checking, and they absolutely refused to uphold their agreement. This is the kind of thing that I want to get rid of in my town. I remember when I first started building systems. I didn't want something too powerful, just smoething to chat and listen to music on. But the guys (here comes my similar story) basically shrugged my order off for two whole weeks because (this part is assumption, but judging by the amount of business they had at the time, it's safe to guess they weren't swamped) my order was relatively small. So anyway, we are looking to break the cycle of poor customer service, and poor quality.
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  16. #15
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    Tap into your clients interests. Offer videogame competitions with store products as prizes. Oh, and have really hot chicks in customer service.
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  17. #16
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    Many computer/office stores have the computers and monitors up for display/viewing so you can see their progress...but I have to agree that it'd be nice to have some samples of other hardware set up so people could test and compare them.

    Things such as:
    Graphic Tablets (few brands...maybe 2 per manufacturer).
    Printers (Have a few actual printed samples with a graphic & info about the printer, small stack so people could take a sheet home to think about it)
    Digital Cameras (again, few brands)
    etc.

    Obviously lock them down to the shelving, but let customers try out display samples, or give real samples (not 'company made leaflets' kind of crap).

    Not sure how wide of a scope your store is going to cover, but let customers feel like THEY'RE making the decisions, just help guide them to what they need for what they want.

    If you have the ability to use a back room or something, you could hold competitions there and let people browse the store (supervised of course), that way one doesn't greatly interfere with the other (although make sure the room is fairly sound proofed ). Competitions for store credit/hardware/etc.
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  18. #17
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    I had a friend that did the gaming thing, and it worked out well for him because he had a seperate back room for the gamers. The front was a nice store front, and down the back hall was the game room. You are right about them having to check up on the kids though. Him and his brother ran the place, and one was always in the back watching the kids.

  19. #18
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    Customer Service would be at the top of my list. I may not be a computer whiz, but I do know what I'm going to be using my computer for and I have a general idea of what I need for that to happen. I don't want to be talked down to or not listened to. It's my computer, and if you think I'm an idiot to, say, spend all my time scanning, categorizing, and 3D image rendering my potato chip collection, that doesn't make my money any less green or my computer any less important to me than the guy behind me in line ordering a fat stack of business computers for his entire law office. And none of those lame on-board graphics chips, please... lots of people are trying to pawn those off on consumers, who then are in for a real surprise when more and more games and graphics programs demand a dedicated graphics card.

    Additionally, if you offer computer tech support, LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS! Don't mumble or walk away when I'm talking to you. Don't jump to conclusions or talk over me. Don't shrug in silence. We customers may not know the technical names for what's wrong, but we're doing our best to describe it to you, and we do know when something's not working. Also, if people bring in disks (such as operating systems) while their computer is being worked on, STORE AND LABEL THOSE DISKS in an appropriate place! My mother recently had to have her hard drive redone at a local shop, so she brought down her copy of Works and Windows XP Home. She came home with a completely different copy of Works (all battered up, with a different code and everything - which, last I heard, didn't even work for whatever the heck version of Works was actually loaded onto her machine) and Windows XP Pro, which the tech guys swore up and down she had had on her computer to begin with and refused to take back, or even search for her XP Home disk (even though she had the XP Home box in her hand.) Needless to say, I won't be going there myself, and I'll tell anyone who asks not to go there, either. (Oh yeah... when doing tech support, make the effort to call the customer to update them when you've diagnosed the problem, when it's ready, or if it's going to take longer or cost more than previously quoted.)
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  20. #19
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    Otis - Hot chicks in customer service, roger that . Haha.

    Alzorath - We actually do plan to have displays set up showing off each base system we offer, so that one you could bet on. As for things like tablets, printers, and whatnot. The scope of this store is extremely small just for the fact that it is based in a small town in what will (likely) be a one three room store (one room for the customers to browse in, one room for repairs, and one room for the actual office). If we had a store large enough to include a backroom there is a chance we would consider the gaming thing, but again we really just don`t want to risk it after seeing how it panned out before for the other place. I like your idea though about having printers set up with ACTUAL samples, instead of the ultra high quality things on super fine paper that many large places offer. But unless there was a demand for printers, or other accessories like that, then it probably won`t happen. We could always have customers take a survey when purchasing something, or browsing asking them what kind of products they would like to see us carry. So if the demand for accessories like printers, or tablets is high enough then we will more than likely start carrying them. Thanks for the suggestion. Realistically though, the scope of this store won`t be big enough to have that kind of inventory on hand (at least not starting out, as I said as the store, and it`s customer base grows, and demand for other products gets higher, they will likely be included).

    JF Walls - As I mentioned to the other guys. If there was a large enough backroom to accomodate that sort of things we might consider it. But otherwise right now it`s just not worth the potential loss.

    Brightdreamer - Customer service is at the top of our list alongside general organization (which is one thing that the other stores are definately lacking). We have gone through a few revisions of our business plan, one of which included exactly that (properly storing and labeling software that comes in with a computer), so if you were to come in and drop off your computer, you could be sure that when you got it back you would get everything that you dropped it off with. One thing we plan to do is with ANY work orders we recieve there will be two copies of the work order, service agreements, and reciepts signed and dated by the staff member who handled the computer, one of the managers (my partner or I), and the customer to ensure everything is up to expected quality. As for the onboard graphics. Some customers simply don`t want to spend the money for a standalone graphics processor, so for our very base system (the lowest end base of the 5 we plan to offer) onboad graphics will be standard, although because all our systems will be fully customizable the customer can have a stand alone graphics card put in if they wanted. But for customers like (for example) an elderly person who only wants to read jokes online, send email, and chat with his/her kids online and maybe use a webcam to see them, a standalone graphics card won`t be on their priority list, and the average customer dosen`t know enough about the way a computer works to ask for a downgrade if they don`t feel justified in spending the money for the standalone GPU. Other than the very base system (the low end one) all our other systems are planned to include a major brand graphics card using either one of ATI`s chipsets, or Nvidias, just depends on the intended market for each system. Also, based on a rumor we are looking into, we heard that since AMD bought out ATI, AMD is designing one of it`s next generation processors to handle all gpu functions (kind of like a CPU/GPU combo). So if this rumor pans out, and proves to be true we may be offering systems with that technology as it`s base depending on it`s affordability and functionality.

    Good news. We have just finished the third revision for our general business plan and outline of store policies, and are beginning to put together system specs based on current technology (which will naturally be edited as needed as new technology comes out, and current tech becomes less pricey). Who knows, it could only be a matter of months before you can begin browsing our website.

    Thanks for the input on all of this, everything you guys are saying is being considered by my partner (it feels weird calling him that) and I.
    Last edited by Sepulverture; September 15th, 2006 at 02:16 AM.
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  21. #20
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    I agree with Mr. Man. Make it relaxing and interesting, not like a used car lot in other stores. Give it like a comic book store appeal or barnes and noble. Maybe add an internet cafe. Display unique cases, and maybe hold contests. Also provide games, and exhange for used and old games. I'd love to see a store succesfully collect and sell old games for any system.
    And like some have mentioned open the world of Linux to people. Offer it and have explanations for it.

    Actually tried to read everything in this thread, almost every idea i have has already been talked about.

    Oh yeah and low prices.
    Last edited by 2b BOY; September 15th, 2006 at 03:04 AM.

  22. #21
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    Even if you can't afford to have wacoms on display, it might be worth your while to have access to the stuff on order and to make it known that you are the guys who 'know about it.' I can't think of a single store in Montreal (and Montreal is relatively big) where I can walk into a store and ask someone the difference between an intuos and a graphire. I'm sure ppl would come from outside the town itself if they know you are the 'art computer' specialist who knows what system you need for photoshop, 3d work, who has actually used a wacom and can talk about stuff wannabe (and not so wannabe) artists want to hear.

    It might be adding a single line about it in your newspaper add, it might be word to mouth, it might be giving demos on given days with your personnal tablet (i'm assuming you have one) and then giving the attendees a list with tablet prices and the specs of the one you use.

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