Dell is taking its mall kiosk program a step further by opening two stores, in Dallas and West Nyack, N.Y., in the coming months.
The stores will be located in high-traffic malls and are designed to give consumers a chance to play with a product prior to making a purchase. The Dallas location will open this summer with the New York store to follow sometime later this year. The New York mall was already home to a Dell kiosk. Each store will be 3,000 square feet and will feature Dell's complete portfolio of consumer products. The average kiosk holds about 12, a company spokesman said.
Like the 160 kiosks Dell operates, customers cannot leave with a product, but they can order it through the store. The stores will not stock or sell accessory items; they are intended as a pure showcase facility.
A Dell spokesman said the move has nothing to do with the company pulling back from its direct model. Instead he insisted it was in response to Dell's customer's desire to inspect first-hand a product before making a purchase.
Steve Baker, The NPD Group's industry analysis VP, said the storefront concept tracks with what the company is already doing with its kiosks, which Dell claims are a very good sales generator.
“This is a more expansive way to develop its customer relationship. It doesn't hurt their direct model, but is a natural extension,” he said.
PC vendors have had a mixed experience in handling their own retail operation. Gateway created its large Gateway Country Store chain, which imploded two years ago when the company attempted to turn them into a full-line consumer electronic outlets. Apple has had the opposite experience. Its Apple Stores are a huge sales generator for the company and Apple just opened a new facility on Manhattan's trendy Fifth Avenue.