“After dissing retail stores for years, Dell has changed its tune,” Alexei Oreskovic reports for TheStreet.com. “The PC maker teamed up with retailing powerhouse Wal-Mart earlier this summer to sell a portion of its desktop and notebook PC models.”

“In recent visits to five Wal-Mart stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, however, TheStreet.com found a company still struggling to find its footing in the rough world of retail,” Oreskovic reports.

“With competitors like Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Acer well entrenched in Wal-Mart stores, Dell PCs appeared to be at a distinct disadvantage in the battle for shelf space and promotional material,” Oreskovic reports. “Demonstration units of Dell PCs were nowhere to be found, and the Dell PCs in stock varied from store to store.”

“‘I would say Dell is probably two years behind the competition in terms of understanding the consumer marketplace. So there’s a lot of learning that has to go on,’ says Samir Bhavnani, analyst at market research firm Current Analysis West,” Oreskovic reports.

“Dell is keeping tight-lipped about its retail sales results so far, though Wal-Mart has hinted that things are going well,” Oreskovic reports. “During Wal-Mart’s second-quarter conference call earlier this month, Eduardo Castro-Wright, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores USA, said the company was ‘very pleased with the response we’re seeing to the sales of Dell personal computers in our stores,’ although he did not provide any specific details.”

“To judge by the admittedly limited survey of Wal-Mart stores though, Dell’s initial foray into retail doesn’t address a key issue: Prospective customers hoping to see what a Dell laptop looks like may actually be better off visiting the company’s Web site than visiting the local Wal-Mart,” Oreskovic reports. “At all five Wal-Mart stores visited, Dell was a no-show among the out-of-box laptops on display in the PC section… So much for the hands-on shopping experience.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: But, if you let someone touch and try to use a Dell, they will be bombarded by crapware before (and after) the “X” key pops off and clatters to Wal-Fart’s cheap linoleum floor. Better to let the unsuspecting money-waster take it home sight unseen where they can then mistakenly conclude that they just don’t know how to use a computer properly and blame themselves instead of the real culprits: Microsoft and Dell. We will say though, Wal-Mart is the perfect place for Dell; it’s a match made in hell.