Dell is abruptly abandoning its Dell Direct Store effort, saying customers now have other ways to get their hands on the company's products.
The computer maker said Wednesday that it will close all 140 of its U.S. kiosks as part of the company's ongoing shift in how it sells its products. The company launched the kiosk effort in 2002 as a way for customers to see products firsthand before ordering online or by phone.
"In the past six months the company has adopted a retail strategy that enables Dell to connect with customers it has not necessarily reached in the past," the company said in a statement.
Dell spokesman Bob Kaufman said the company plans to close the kiosks, the majority of which are in malls and shopping centers, in a matter of days. Kaufman declined to say how many workers are losing their jobs, or the cost to Dell of ending the effort, but said that affected workers would receive severance and outplacement assistance.
The company is not closing its kiosks outside the U.S. In recent months, the company has moved its products into a number of retailers, most notably Best Buy, but also Wal-Mart Stores and Staples.
"Moving into retail is a prime example of Dell listening to its customers," said Tony Weiss, vice president for Dell's Global Consumer business, in a statement. "Ever since we began our journey into retail, we wanted to give customers the opportunity to call, click, or visit Dell and have access to our award-winning products. This move fits in with how our broad global retail strategy is evolving."
The move follows a similar one several years back by Gateway, which had built up a larger network of stores, but closed them as it acquired retail specialist eMachines and started selling more broadly in stores. Gateway has since been acquired by Acer.