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Tech Industry

HP, Circuit City do custom sales

Historically reliant upon retailers as their main distribution channel, PC makers are trying to appear more "direct."

    Hewlett-Packard and Circuit City are teaming up to bring direct sales of HP computers to the latter's retail customers, following in the footsteps of Compaq, which has already launched a similar program.

    Historically reliant upon retailers as their main distribution channel, PC makers are increasingly tweaking their retail offerings to appear more "direct" amid the growing market presence of Dell and Gateway. Direct sales are intended to aid manufacturers in managing their inventory.

    HP's will sell its Pavilion 8300 consumer desktop PC at the Circuit City kiosks through touch screens that allow customers to research and select their preferred configuration. The system is then shipped to the customer within ten days.

    Compaq launched a similar program, "Built for You," earlier this summer. As in the HP program, Compaq allows customers to choose from different processor speeds, hard disk drive sizes, memory configurations, and peripherals at kiosks in Best Buy stores nationwide.

    IBM's consumer PC group is also considering a similar program, slated for this fall.

    The HP pilot program will start rolling out later this summer, and is expected to be available in 510 Circuit City stores by late fall.