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September 14, 2007

Arris Opens Store to Non-Industry Buyers

It's safe to assume that a company that's been around as long as Arris knows what its customers want. Following that assumption, then, apparently Arris' base of cable customers wants to take in-home responsibility off their crews of technicians and installers and put it on contractors and consumers.

Arris has thus unveiled YourBroadbandStore.com, a Web-based shopping site that delivers quick links to voice, video and data solutions and equipment that can be purchased online almost like going to Radio Shack without the confused teen-age sales clerk. Primarily contractors and home network installers, but also informed do-it-yourselfers will be able to go to the Arris site and buy things like cables, connectors, splitters and signal amplifiers (and doesn't everybody need a few connectors and signal amplifiers in their junk drawers?) as well even less exciting equipment like tools, test gear, VoIP, high-speed data and high definition TV installation peripherals and replacement batteries for Arris Touchstone EMTA telephony modems.

Of course, pirates can go there too, but they're probably still more interested in the local flea markets.

A new era for Telewire?

For Arris, which has always maintained a distributor sales base via its Telewire Supply operation, this is a new, interesting and scary area. Selling to a cable operator is one thing; selling to Johnny Fixit is another.

"We've taken the products and solutions that we sell to the cable industry, downscaled them quite a bit, and put them on the Web site and opened it up to contractors for home installations, for the do-it-yourself consumer, that sort of thing," said Tom Williams, vice president of marketing and business development at Arris.

At least one way to keep do-it-yourselfers away from things they shouldn't be touching or buying is by using pricing that scales to group discounts. If it costs too much to buy a single splitter, you're better off leaving it alone, the theory goes.

"It's different products," Williams said. "There are a lot of infrastructure, installation-type of products, and at the same time we do have some consumer touchy-feely type of stuff like the Cricket remote control from Universal Electronics that that people really seem to like."

A work in progress

Arris, while used to cataloging and distributing products, is new to this space, so YourBroadbandStore.com is a work in progress.

"We've done search engine optimization where we've actually hired a company to look at how to better optimize search engines. That's one way people are finding us," Williams said. "And we've worked with several Web sites like shopping.com and comparison sites to get on those Web sites."

The company has even gone so far as to become a member of the Custom Design and Installation Association, which we all know and love as CEDIA.

It's all intended to make life easier for everyone involved with putting equipment into homes that are constantly changing to meet new technological needs.

"It's a site that a consumer or contractor can go to to get products that are approved by the MSOs," Williams said. "You have all these contractors that are going in and doing all these big high-end installations for HDTV, home networking, and even some voice types of installs, and they're able to go out and buy approved products through YourBroadbandStore.com.

- Jim Barthold







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