CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published Monday, January 11, 1999

Nordstrom of computer sales arrives

It's only appropriate, since Stockton's considered such a "cow town," that Holsteins should now adorn The Mall at Weberstown. Gateway 2000, the national direct-marketing computer retailer, recently moved into our community, sparking a renaissance in the storefront catalog sales business.

Like the "olden days" when Sears, Roebuck and J.C. Penney ran large catalog operations from small retail spaces, Gateway Country carries no inventory, but rather gives consumers the opportunity to sample their wide variety of computers before ordering a custom-tailored system directly from Gateway.

Gateway began as a small business in an Iowa farmhouse by Ted Waitt and Mike Hammond with the goal offering computer consumers an alternative to high prices, limited choices and poor support services typically associated with the retail PC market.

Using that successful formula, Gateway has grown exponentially and now employs more than 16,000 people worldwide and reports revenues of $6.3 billion for 1997. Gateway is ranked fifth nationwide and sixth worldwide in total shipments of PCs for the 1998 third quarter, according to the industry research company, Dataquest.

Gateway specializes in tailoring PC systems that match the specific needs of its consumers. Each system that is shipped from South Dakota is custom built to the user's specifications, with brand-name components, which is far different from buying "off the shelf" through "big box" stores. The new Gateway Country storefronts now afford consumers the opportunity to actually road test the various systems before ordering a custom configured system.

Gateway offers high-end business solution systems as well as products for the small-business and home user. Nifty children's PCs with age-appropriate software are available as well. All Gateway products come with a one-year onsite warranty and an additional two years parts and labor warranty.

Your:)Ware is another great Gateway program that allows you to buy now and then trade-in your computer between the second and fourth year. Gateway will buy back your old PC at its current value and apply the credit toward the purchase of a new system. This is a good way to ensure that you don't lose your initial investment entirely when it's time to purchase a newer PC.

Incredible service, in addition to reliable hardware, has earned Gateway high honors in the technical community. In an area where the industry really has a black eye, Gateway stands far above the rest in customer service, offering the coveted "Nordstrom" level of personal attention.

Locally, Gateway has many fans who are pleased that Gateway Country has settled in Stockton. Bank of Stockton has more than 500 Gateway systems installed as desktop clients throughout their branches, according to Jim Lawrence, Bank of Stockton vice president and manager of information systems. Excellent service, superior technical support and reliable hardware has earned Gateway exclusive honors at the Bank of Stockton.

"They have an excellent track record with us," says Lawrence. Easy upgrades is another reason Lawrence opts for Gateway over other systems. "There is an upgrade kit for every model developed that will automatically reconfigure a PC with all the updated options flawlessly."

Customization, personal attention to the consumer's needs and reliable after-sale service is what sets Gateway 2000 apart from other computer manufacturers, according to Joe Scott, Gateway's Stockton manager. This hands-on, service oriented approach to computer sales by knowledgeable staff is certainly a welcome addition to the Stockton community.

Although headquartered in North Sioux City, S.D., Gateway is committed to local involvement in Gateway Country communities, according to Scott. Already, the Stockton Gateway store has donated a $1,500 credit to the local Boys & Girls Club. Additionally, the company plans to extend its service network to include local computer professionals and technicians as necessary to offer a full range of technical support and service options to its customers.

Computer training courses will soon be offered onsite in Gateway's state-of-the-art labs on a variety of software applications. Classes will be available to the general public with discounts offered for Gateway customers.

Gateway Country is just a taste of what's coming as e-commerce and Internet marketing continue to take hold. Increasingly, you can expect to see "virtual" storefronts in local malls and shopping areas that allow you to see, touch and feel the merchandise before placing the order for direct delivery. You can also expect e-commerce "kiosks" to spring up in the malls, allowing direct ordering through the Internet for specialized goods and merchandise.

Gateway Country is located in the Weberstown Mall, between Dillards and Old Navy. Stop in to browse and test the systems, or visit their website at http://www.gw2k.com I think you'll find it's pretty cool living in a "cow town."

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.

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