Wait. Dell Had Retail Kiosks Too?
In the grand tradition of Gateway and Palm, Dell is shuttering its 140 kiosks in the U.S. as part of a new retail strategy that will expand sales of its products in outlets like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Staples.
“We recognized early on that customers really wanted to touch and see the products before they purchased them,” said Dell spokesman Bob Kaufman. “That led us to the kiosk model. Now, customers can touch and feel our products before buying them at one of our retail partners.”
And better still, they can walk out of one of those partner stores with more than a receipt. You see, Dell’s kiosks (shown above just buzzing with activity) carried no inventory. An odd choice, since consumers typically like to take their purchases home after they’ve made them. Just ask Apple, which has carved out a nice little brick-and-mortar retail business for itself by stocking the products it sells.
As George Whalin, president of Retail Management Consultants, noted back in 2006 when Dell first debuted its kiosks, stores that carry no inventory risk frustrating shoppers. Said Whalin: “I don’t think that works as well, particularly for consumers. Walk into a major consumer electronics store, and they have a selection of TVs you can choose from, compare, load up in the back of your pickup and take home.”