Hoping to secure a place among direct-market big boys, IBM yesterday announced a new strategy for selling PCs from its Website.
IBM pledged same-day shipping on certain orders placed by US customers under its Buy Today, Ship Today program. Nine models are available with that shipping guarantee, including ThinkPad notebooks, Aptiva PCs and IBM commercial desktop PCs, according to Rich Fennessy, vice president of IBM's personal systems group.
The company plans to add other models to the program over the next few months, Fennessy said.
In October of last year, IBM announced it would no longer sell its consumer PCs in US stores and would instead focus on Internet sales.
Fennessy said yesterday's Internet sales announcements are the first of several which will be made throughout the year, as IBM goes up against direct sales specialists like Dell and Gateway. IBM is looking to duplicate or create better Internet sales models than those used by other companies, and the Buy Today, Ship Today program is one such example, Fennessy said.
"You go into some of those [competitors'] sites and you have five to seven-day lead times before the product ships out."
IBM also announced "Call Me Now" buttons on many of its ibm.com Web pages. Customers can click on the button, enter their name and phone number, and, within several minutes, receive a call from an IBM sales representative who knows which product they've been browsing, according to Fennessy.
The company will shortly launch an advertising campaign attempting to convince customers that its pricing is competitive. For example, an IBM PC 300 with an Intel Celeron 466MHz processor, 64MB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory), a 10.1GB (Ultra ATA/66) hard drive, a 56Kbps PCI v. 90 integrated modem, a 40x-17x CD-ROM, a 15-inch monitor, a copy of Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system, and Microsoft's Office Small Business Edition office suite, is priced at $US1128, according to IBM.
In IBM's Aptiva line, an Aptiva model 905 featuring an Intel Pentium III 500MHz processor, 64MB of SDRAM, a 10GB hard drive, a 56Kbps v. 90 compatible modem, a 40x-17x CD-ROM, a 15-inch monitor, Windows 98, and Lotus' SmartSuite office applications suite, is priced at $1199, IBM said.