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IBM offers same-day shipping for PCs

Big Blue, as part of a move to revamp its lackluster PC strategy, launches its first program for beefing up direct sales over the Web.

IBM, as part of a move to revamp its lackluster PC strategy, today launched its first program for beefing up direct sales over the Web.

Big Blue's latest strategy kicked off last week with the announcement of new "edge of the network," or EON, computers and services.

IBM last year largely stopped selling its Aptiva consumer PC in retail stores, taking the product line direct. Today's announcement firms up the Armonk, N.Y.-based computer maker's commitment to direct sales, making nine popular models available for same-day shipping. The program is targeted at small- and medium-size business users.

Typically PC makers take five to 10 days to get customers systems following an order. IBM is touting its new "buy today, ship today" feature, guaranteeing select models ordered before noon PST will be shipped the same day. IBM, however, is not promising next-day delivery.

"Small businesses and consumers don't want to wait seven days for their computer equipment to be delivered--they want it today," David Thomas, senior vice president of IBM's Personal Systems Group, said in a prepared statement. "Because we've taken significant costs out of our business expenses, we're passing along the cost savings from making our businesses more efficient."

IBM expects the Web-based direct sales effort will mean it can discount PCs and notebooks by 30 percent. Discounted prices would only apply to systems sold over the Web to customers based in the United States.

Direct sales are typically less expensive because PC makers can ship direct to the customer rather than bearing the cost of stocking retailers' shelves.

As previously reported, IBM today started a national ad campaign touting its direct sales efforts. The first ad appeared in the Wall Street Journal and tomorrow will expand to 22 major U.S. dailies, including the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner and Washington Post.

IBM in October said it would spend about $20 million on the ad campaign.

Big Blue also added "Call Me Now" buttons throughout the sales portion of its Web site. Customers clicking on the button can request phone assistance on about 100 products.

"IBM's research indicates that when customers visit the Web to shop for PCs and options, about 70 percent pick up the phone to talk to someone when they decide to purchase," Thomas said.