Dell Inc.’s online sales rose 15 percent in 2008, the year after it introduced its products in retail stores. Industry observers say the increase proves Dell solidly remains an online business even as it expands into brick-and-mortar stores. The Round Rock-based computer company tied with Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP) as the No. 3 online retailer in the U.S. during 2008, moving up from No. 4 behind Office Depot
in 2007, according to Internet Retailer, a Chicago-based firm. Dell’s increase in online business is especially notable because 2008 was the first full year in which the company’s products were available in stores such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY). Industry analysts said online sales haven’t been affected by the move into stores because Dell’s retail business has yet to catch on, although the company doesn’t state retail sales separately from online business.