Dell to Close All 140 U.S. Kiosks

Dell said on Wednesday it would close all of its 140 U.S. kiosks, a concept it launched in 2002 to showcase computers, as it expands sales of PCs in retail stores.

Dell, the world’s second-largest personal computer maker will shut the kiosks, mostly in shopping malls, today — a decision the company said fits with its new retail strategy.

Customers could test Dell PCs at the kiosks and order the products, but they could not take delivery of them there.

The concept has become largely obsolete as Dell last year departed from a 23-year strategy of direct-only sales and its computers are now available in about 10,000 store outlets and online.

Dell in June started selling computers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc and later announced agreements with France’s Carrefour SA and China’s GOME Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd, among others.

Founder Michael Dell, who retook the company’s helm a year ago, is changing Dell’s consumer-sales strategy to better compete with rivals including Hewlett-Packard Co, which overtook Dell as the world’s largest PC maker in 2006 after selling more notebook computers and printers in stores.

Dell spokesman Bob Kaufman said Dell will keep about 50 kiosks outside the United States.

“We recognized early on that customers really wanted to touch and see the products before they purchased them,” Kaufman said. “That led us to the kiosk model. Now, customers can touch and feel our products before buying them at one of our retail partners.”

Shares of Dell slipped 17 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $20.39 in midday trading on Nasdaq.

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