Micron Kiosks Open in Best Buy

SAN FRANCISCO (03/15/2000) - You no longer need a PC to order one from Micron Electronics Inc. The direct-PC vendor, which sells built-to-order PCs on its Web site (and by phone), is teaming with Best Buy to offer MicronPC.com systems via kiosks in stores across the country.

Through the kiosks, you can order Micron's full line of configurable Millennia desktop PCs, but not its ClientPro business PCs. About 15 of the kiosks will be in Best Buy stores starting in mid-March, and Micron executives say kiosks should reach all 357 Best Buy stores in 39 states by mid-spring.

The arrangement should work for everyone: Micron, Best Buy, and especially consumers, says Joel Kocher, Micron Electronics chair and chief executive officer.

The deal serves home PC buyers because, traditionally, retail stores can't manage inventory fast enough to always offer the newest technology, he says.

Consumers who want a PC with the newest CPU and other good stuff often must shop online. The MicronPC.com kiosks let you walk into a Best Buy, talk with a Micron-certified salesperson, and order your dream PC.

"This allows customers to order a machine the way they want it," Kocher says.

The company will deliver the PC in three to five days, or even faster for a fee, he says.

Broader Base for Both

The Minneapolis-based bargain retailer gets to set the price, and can expand its PC selection to high-end units, Kocher says. Until now, Best Buy was largely relegated to selling mid- to low-end PCs, where profit margins aren't as high. Kocher expects the company to set prices at levels comparable to Micron's own.

For Best Buy, the deal gives them another way to draw a new set of customers, who are interested in high-end purchases, he says.

"Best Buy has clearly set their sites on Gateway," Kocher says. Gateway sells its built-to-order PCs by telephone, through the company Web site, and in its Gateway Country stores. There, people can ask questions and view demos, although merchandise must be shipped rather than received on-site.

And, finally, Micron gets another shot at the coveted consumer market where it previously concentrated its efforts, Kocher says. The company has focused on business sales and subscription-based computing models for the last few years, while it has looked for ways to sell profitably to consumers. This partnership lets Micron share in Best Buy's well-known brand, with its name appearing in 75 million advertising inserts a week, Kocher says.

Kocher acknowledges that Micron isn't the first, or only, PC vendor with kiosks in Best Buy stores. But he says the other companies have met with limited success because "they're built-to-order wannabes" that primarily offer a particular line.

Micron has a state-of-the-art factory that focuses on building just-in-time PCs, he says.

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