Consumers will be able to configure their own Hewlett Packard PCs using an electronic kiosk at US superstore chain Circuit City.
Using the kiosks, due to be unveiled late summer, shoppers in a number of Circuit City stores will be able to customise the HP Pavilion 8300 with their choice of processor, memory and accessories. The PCs will be built to order and delivered to the store or to the buyer's home address.
The programme is expected to run in more than 510 Circuit City stores in the US by the autumn. HP was looking at extending the deal to other retailers and introducing it into Europe, including the UK.
While HP is awaiting the outcome of the project, a move towards direct, build-to-order sales on the Web was a distinct possibility. An HP representative confirmed it was 'something we're considering' but stressed that nothing had yet been decided.
The manufacturer already has an online store called HP Shopping Village but this only sells accessories and refurbished PCs. Another site, HP Commerce Center, connects users to HP resellers. The representative said HP Shopping Village would be a likely place for HP to offer direct, build-to-order systems.
After the success of direct vendor Dell, vendors with an established distribution channel, such as HP, Compaq and IBM, have been scrambling to fashion an adapted version of Dell's model. But HP has been adamant that it will not follow the lead of Compaq and IBM to sell direct because of fear of upsetting its channel partners.
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