Taking Personalization To the Limit on the
When it comes to personalized computers, no one does it quite like Dell Inc. Early on, people chuckled to think that consumers would purchase computers via mail order and the Web when they could just drive down to their local computer
store to pick one out in person. In 1984, aspiring entrepreneur
Michael Dell proved them wrong, and has been doing so ever since.
As company chairman and CEO, Dell founded his
firm with $1,000 and an unprecedented idea: to sell computer systems
directly to customers. Today, the company employs approximately
78,700 team members worldwide and posted first quarter 2007 gross sales of $14.4 billion. The company is a premier provider of computing products
and services to the world's largest corporations, including many
of the companies on the Fortune 500.
Dell's popularity and success stems from the fact
that its "sell direct" model starts and ends with its
customers. The philosophy has served it well: according to a July
2003 Gartner Group report, Dell generated double-digit growth year-over-year
in the U.S. for six consecutive quarters, while its nearest competitors
experienced erratic growth or declines over the same period.
Dell prides itself in its ability to provide value,
quality, relevant technology, customized systems, superior service
and support, and products and services that are easy to buy and
use. Its business model is based on five basic business tenets:
Direct is the most efficient path to the customer; customers want
a single point of accountability; provide customers with exactly
what they want by building-to-order; stay the low-cost leader; and
provide customers with relevant, high-value products and services.
From the company's start page, shoppers are prompted
to select the company's consumer, business or public (government
entities, for example) shopping site. Once there, buyers get an
eyeful of recommendations, price rollbacks on certain models, shopping
assistance and even "buying alternatives," such as refurbished
computers. Dell offers extensive buying guides in its learning center,
and a variety of payment options (including a preferred account
that can be approved in less than 60 seconds) – and it's all
in the name of making the shopping experience as easy as possible
With more than 20 years of experience under
its belt, Dell's personalization strategies shine through on the
Web – a place where many other firms have tried and failed.
By presenting much more than just business information and a shopping
cart, its site is designed to cater to and attract consumers. Through
a largely self-service format, Dell puts the shopping power in its
customers' hands, allowing them to select and customize the computer
that truly meets their needs.