Dell to Branch Into Office Furniture

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Dell Computer Corp., Round Rock, TX, plans to map its I-commerce model onto a new breed of merchandise -- desks and chairs -- the company told DM News at the Business-to-Business E-Commerce Convention in Chicago last week.

Dell is "absolutely looking at selling desks and chairs and will do that with a solid partner. This might get some visibility over the next couple of quarters," said Bob Langer, a director of Dell Online.

The company also is hoping to announce the introduction of "boutiques along interest lines," such as digital photography and home networking, in July, a company spokesman said. This will further increase its product range, introducing new stock along existing lines. The company already expanded offerings on its Gigabuys site, which went live two months ago, originally selling printers, fax machines and other office equipment peripheral to PCs, adding consumables such as printer and toner cartridges two weeks later.

One reason for the expansion is that in its original PC specialty, " Dell is heading toward a downtrend," according to at least one analyst. This downtrend will start around 2000 to 2001 as the average selling price of a PC continues to decrease, and the sub-$500 PC road is a path CEO Michael Dell has said he will not travel: at the Networld and Interop show in Las Vegas yesterday, he joked that he would consider selling a sub-$500 PC but only if users are happy with no components, no warranty and no service.

Dell cited customer requests as the reason for expanding its offerings.

"It's an interesting proposition that our customers are certainly requesting. And it's an issue that any e-commerce site is wrestling with today," said Chris Gehring, a director of

Expansion also is likely to continue into other product and service areas after July's announcement of shopping boutiques.

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