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Dell Can Beat Any Retailer, Except Wal-Mart

Reuters reports that Michael Dell's worst nightmare may actually be coming to reality. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will start selling build-your-own-computer components in more than one-third of its U.S. discount stores this month as it looks for ways to tempt shoppers to buy more than just low-margin food.

Wal-Mart currently offers only prepackaged bundles of personal computers and accessories in most of its stores. With the build-your-own-computer counters, shoppers can choose between several different components. Such components include central processing units � the brain of the computer that powers its basic functions � as well as monitors, keyboards and mice that customers can combine to create customized packages they can load in a shopping cart and take home right away.

The retailer began testing build-your-own computer counters in about 20 locations last year, and is now introducing them in 1,200 of its 3,200 U.S. discount stores, spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart told Reuters. Wal-Mart's entry into a category can raise alarms because the retailer's persistent price-cutting pressures competitors' profit margins. It has been blamed for bankruptcies in sectors ranging from groceries and toys.

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