Last April, Lenovo entered into a partnership with Best Buy to let customers get up close and personal with the computer manufacturer's desktop and notebook PCs being sold at Best Buy for Business kiosks the retail giant's store-within-a-store. However, while you could try-it-before-you-buy-it, you couldn't leave the store with your PC in tow. You had to try it and then buy it online and then wait patiently for home delivery.
Today, Lenovo announced a change in that patience-is-a-virtue philosophy. Starting this month, the company will offer ThinkPad T60 widescreen and Lenovo 3000 N100 notebooks that you can try, buy and take home all in the same visit.
Why the tactical change of heart? Stephen Mungall, Lenovo's vice-president, world-wide/Americas channel, cites several reasons. "We continue to see that very small businesses and home-office workers prefer to buy PCs on site. We're trying to address that particular segment's need."
He also says the plan works well as an adjunct strategy. "The larger small businesses tend to buy computers through the channel, and this relationship with Best Buy for Business lets us serve the preferences of both groups," says Mungall. "We want to increase our visibility and brand awareness. Our presence at Best Buy lets SMBs know who Lenovo is, lets them learn about our 3000 N100 notebooks and provides easier access to our products."
A brief refresher: Lenovo is the China-based company that bought IBM's desktop and notebook PC division back in 2005. And while just about everyone recognizes the ThinkPad brand, Lenovo also sells its lower-priced and lesser-known branded computers.
When Lenovo first began this affiliation, Best Buy for Business was available in 135 Best Buy stores across the country. Today, that number has increased to approximately 300 locations.
While Lenovo offers approximately 35 different configurations of ThinkPad and 3000 N100 notebooks, it will offer only two that you can purchase and take home through Best Buy for Business. "We worked with Best Buy to define a select set of SKUs for this initiative. The decision was based on the specific needs of small businesses and on Best Buy's view of what will succeed in the store," says Mungall.
Of course, should you want a different configuration, you can still order it through any sales associates working at the Best Buy for Business centers you'll just have to wait for delivery.
Lenovo estimates that product will be available in all 300 locations by the end of February.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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