Dell Computer will get its products in front of mall shoppers without worrying about retail mark-ups or inventory costs, making permanent a kiosk sales system set up during the recent holidays, and starting a deal with US department store Sears, Roebuck and Co. to sell Dell PCs.
The PC vendor is known primarily for its Web-based direct sales model, but it has entered into an agreement with the Texas-based Sears store to install staffed kiosks containing samples of Dell products, said Venancio Figueroa, a Dell spokesman.
Dell will also maintain its kiosk program in malls around the US, Figueroa said.
Customers won't be able to take Dell PCs home from the mall kiosks, but they'll be able to ask questions of Dell sales associates, start an online custom-configuration program, or make a purchase through Dell's Web site, he said.
Dell isn't releasing information on the financial details of the agreement between the company and Sears, Figueroa said.
The deal provides an interesting way for Dell to compete against rival PC maker Hewlett-Packard (HP), which sells Compaq PCs through Sears' retail shelves, according to a customer service representative at the Sears store in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sony's Vaio PCs are also available through the Cambridge Sears.
The retailer also sells HP and Sony notebook computers, as well as HP's Compaq desktops through its Web site.
HP recently resumed the lead in global PC shipments from Dell in the fourth quarter, according to market research released by IDC.