By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Best Buy will begin carrying Dell notebook and desktop computers in January, becoming the brand's third new retail account within the last eight months after Wal-Mart and Staples.
The distribution deal is the latest stage in Dell's burgeoning retail strategy, designed to augment its original consumer-direct model and recapture market share.
For Best Buy, the agreement expands its IT offering to five of the most popular computer brands in the United States including , whose desktops, notebooks, software and accessories will be sold within dedicated areas in some 270 Best Buy stores by year's end. Best Buy also carries desktop and notebooks from Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Sony and Toshiba. The retailer said the addition of Dell will mark the first time since at least 1995 that the brands have commingled under one retail roof.
The move instantly places pressure on established computer vendors Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and Toshiba to retain their shelf space in Best Buy, said Steve Baker, The NPD Group's industry analysis VP.
"This move makes Best Buy the place to go for all the top PC brands," Baker said, adding the Dell notebooks and desktops in Best Buy should scare HP and the others.
Under terms of the deal, Best Buy will carry an assortment of Inspiron and top-of-the-line XPS notebook and desktop computers, including the new XPS One all-in-one system with Blu-ray burner. Baker said including their top-end gaming systems is proof the Dell recognizes retail ability to build its brand.
"Seeing the latest fashion colors of our Inspiron and XPS notebooks or previewing the ultimate gaming experience on a high-performance system can be an important part of how people shop," said Michael Tatelman, sales and marketing VP for Dell's global consumer business.
"The addition of Dell to our retail and online selection gives Best Buy customers unprecedented choice when buying a computer," added Dave Morrish, senior VP of Best Buy's mobility business unit — and brings together the nation's two-largest providers of computers and accessories, the chain said.
Besides the XPS One, Best Buy's desktop assortment of Dells will include the Dell Inspiron 530, 531 and 531s. Notebooks will include the XPS M1330 in white, the Inspiron 1521 in blue and black and the Inspiron 1420 in black. Additional models and colors will be available at Best Buy in coming months, Dell said.
Dell launched its retail distribution plan in June by opening up distribution to and Sam's Club with two exclusively configured Dimension desktop models. Last month it added to its retailer roster, which now carries a wide assortment of Inspiron notebook and desktop computers, as well as monitors, printers, ink and toners in stores and online. Dell also continues to sell limited SKUs through Costco and Staples.
Another channel proving successful for Dell is QVC.
A Sunday afternoon appearance on QVC by Dell chairman, founder and CEO Michael Dell may have helped the multimedia retailer enjoy its best sales weekend in the company's 21-year history.
Domestic orders topped $105 million for Saturday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 2, while online sales exceeded $25 million, a weekend record for QVC.com.
The weekend after Thanksgiving weekend is generally a slower period for retailers, following the frantic sales activity of the Black Friday period. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), sales for the week ending Dec. 1 fell 2 percent from the prior seven-day period.
On Sunday, a Dell Inspiron notebook and desktop computer were promoted as "Today's Special Value" items, and during the 3 p.m. Dell broadcast Michael Dell demonstrated the product, discussed the company's history and talked to customers about the QVC offering. In addition, eight customers who phoned in during the show were able to chat with Dell about their purchases. Shoppers reacted by ordering more than 31,000 units.
"When we provide our customers with compelling product offerings and great values, they respond and this weekend was an exceptional example of that," said QVC president/CEO Mike George. "Not only did our current customer base log on and dial in for great products, but we also attracted more than 25,000 new customers who recognized QVC as a great destination for holiday shopping."
Other big sellers for the weekend included the Bose Wave music system; a Kodak digital camera; a portable GPS navigation system; a Lexmark wireless printer, scanner and copier; and a digital picture frame.
QVC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Media. Its CE sales were $330 million last year according to TWICE's Top 100 CE retailers ranking, where it placed 36th.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.