Claiming traditional retailers provide a poor environment for purchasing computers, Gateway has announced it will open its own chain of retail stores.
"The retail computer buying experience has not been the greatest," said Frank Smilovic, Gateway's Asia-Pacific region managing director. Smilovic said traditional retailers, such as Harvey Norman and Myer-Grace Bros, were cluttered, crowded and often had ill-informed staff.
In contrast, Smilovic said the Gateway retail stores would be "non-threatening, fun and a knowledgeable environment".
The retail outlets are a departure from Gateway's traditional direct distribution model, but Smilovic said the stores would not hold inventory. All orders made at the stores would be fulfilled using Gateway's existing distribution channel.
Just over a year ago, Gateway launched a channel partner program for "resellers who are not bogged down with hardware and more focused on providing a service", Smilovic said. The new retail strategy would not conflict with that program, he said.
Smilovic was adamant the retail shopfronts would also be complementary to Gateway's existing sales channels.
"The [retail] channel is extremely complementary to phone and Web sales," Smilovic said. He said it was likely customers would familiarise themselves with the computers in-store before placing their orders via the Internet or on the phone.
Gateway plans to have seven stores open by the end of the year, including Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and the existing store in Sydney's CBD. Smilovic said there had been a "phenomenal response" to the recently opened Castle Hill store, north-west of Sydney.
In addition to the new retail outlets, Gateway also has a "store-within-a-store" agreement with more than 40 Telstra retail shops, Smilovic said. He would not rule out the possibility of making similar deals with other retailers.