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Dell Moves into Electronic Cash Register Market

Dell is branching out beyond its traditional market making a move into the electronic cash register market, targeting retail stores nationwide.

The new PC-based cash registers are equipped with special software, services and peripherals, which will enable merchants to connect customer buying patterns with wider company networked information systems. Dell says it will focus on "medium to large retailers."

The two new types of PC-based registers can be customized for a variety of automated processes for different types of department and convenience store operations. Dell is marketing the new registers, as low cost PC-based systems, and an alternative to more expensive, traditional point-of-sale systems.

Dell's foray into the cash register market pits against entrenched point-of-sale leaders, including IBM , NCR Corp. , not to mention HP and Sun Microsystems , which have recently entered the market.

The main reason Dell and others are moving into the electronic cash register market is because it is not only lucrative, but also because IBM has dominated the business for years. IHL Consulting Group estimates the North American market for cash register systems to be $4 billion a year.

IBM has the bulk of the contracts with the leading retail and grocery chains, and now its computer manufacturing competitors are looking to cut into its market share. The various computer vendors will be bidding on contract proposals for everyone from national retailers to gas station and convenience store chains.

Dell plans on pitching its new products to storeowners as a low-cost alternative to what it sees as aging, and more expensive point-of-sale systems.

Dell says it will connect retailer desktops, servers, storage and networked products and services with a variety of peripherals customized to each retailer's needs. Dell said its point-of-sale configurations will start at $1,794 and for that price would include, a Dell Optiplex desktop, a flat panel or CRT display with standard or touch screen features, keyboard with programmable keys, barcode scanner, thermal receipt printer and cash drawer.

Dell says its systems, along with its software partners, will enable stores to automate operations, including customer sales transactions, inventory management, payments, accounting, customer data and corporate communications. Dell's software partners include four independent software vendors (ISVs): Retek , AutoGas, GERS Retail Systems and MSS Global.

Dell is showing its new PC-based electronic cash registers at the National Retail Federation's 92nd Convention and Expo in New York this week.