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Dell closes its online marketplace

The computer maker quietly shutters the Dell Marketplace, just four months after launching the site that attracted only three major suppliers.

    Dell Computer has quietly shuttered its online marketplace, just four months after it launched the site.

    The computer maker was able to attract only three major suppliers to the site, whose mission was to sell Dell's own products and a range of goods from third parties, not all of them computer-related, directly to customers.

    "The marketplace is no longer in service," said Dell spokesman Ken Bissell. "The decision came after we recognized the lack of maturity and collaboration in the e-commerce marketplace, as well as a limited readiness of customers to make use of an electronic marketplace."

    A main goal of the marketplace, which was announced in September and launched in October, was to help Dell capitalize on traffic to its Web site, one of the world's most active e-commerce venues.

    But the online exchange failed to gain traction. Dell signed on only 3M, Motorola and Pitney Bowes as supplier partners over the past four months, though Bissell insisted others were in the wings.

    Initially, the site was to focus on computers and related products, but Dell's plans called for the sale of general office products and "indirect industrial equipment" such as janitorial supplies.

    Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, still offers a program called SupplierAdvantage to provide technology and services to suppliers looking to connect to online marketplaces. Also launched in September, that program combines hardware from Dell, software from Microsoft, and integration services from Lante.

    "We have shifted the direction of our B2B strategy from hosting a marketplace to providing solutions to customers looking to connect to other marketplaces," Bissell said.