Dell Computer introduced a program today aimed at boosting the
effectiveness of its print advertisements and at the same time making it
easier for consumers to buy systems over the Internet.
With the new program, Dell is applying a
concept similar to the codes printed in TV guides that are used to simplify
videotaping TV programs.
The E-Value program aims to make buying a computer
online an easier task like this: It lets a customer type in a number from a
printed ad at the program's Web
site, and then the correct system configuration and price pops up.
The system is intended to help customers cut through
the morass of configuration "speeds and feeds" information that typifies
most advertisements for PCs.
Instead of trying to click through several
layers of a Web site to get to the right computer and configure systems
themselves, small businesses and consumers will be encouraged to go right
to the E-Value page, type in the system number from the ad, and Dell will
whisk them to the correct information.
Dell, which now says it does more than $10 million a day in sales over the
Internet, or 20 percent of total revenues, hopes the new process will help
speed the company along toward its goal of selling half its PCs via the
Internet by 2000.
"Basically the Internet is becoming a much bigger part of our
business. This is a way to get from an ad to the Internet to get directly
what you're looking for" and, consequently, boost online sales, said David
Clifton, senior product marketing manager for Dell's small business group.
"It's not really a complicated idea, but its something that's difficult to
execute consistently and accurately," Clifton said. Order and manufacturing
systems have to be tied together on an increasingly real-time basis in
order for the system to work, he noted.
Another benefit for the company--Dell should be able to track the
effectiveness of its print ad campaigns more effectively. Previously,
tracking was mostly accomplished by collecting information on which
a toll-free number associated with a particular publication resulted in sales
Presumably, it has been harder to track which ads in a given
magazine generated online sales, because customers weren't phoning in, they
were logging on and rebuilding the configurations for themselves.
Dell enjoyed remarkable growth in both revenues and shipments in 1998,
reaching the No. 2 in the U.S. for the fourth quarter, according to recent surveys. Part
of that success has been attributed to a growing number of customers who
are shopping for computers online.