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Dell Debuts New Web Site To Enhance Online Sales And Service

Dell has redesigned its global e-commerce sites and has been rolling them out worldwide for the past four months.

According to Dell senior VP John Hamlin, who runs the company’s global online business and global brand marketing divisions, the new format is now in place in almost all of the 174 countries for which Dell has targeted sites. Speaking at the company’s annual Tech Day here last month, he pointed out that the new design focused on making the site easy to connect to, easy to navigate, easy to understand and easy to buy from. More specifically, the site features product pathways allowing users to shop by immediately selecting product categories (desktops, notebooks, peripherals, CE) and by then selecting their segment (home and home office, small business, goverment) so that they will be guided to the correct products.

The new site contains a variety of features intended to give the consumer an experience “as close to the physical shopping experience as possible,” said Hamlin. Such features include the ability to see what a particular product might look like within the setting for which it is intended, such as a flat-panel TV within a virtual living room, and a 360-degree viewing option where users can zoom in on specific areas of the product and rotate it.

Dell moved to make the actual act of placing an order easier as well. Users no longer have to scroll through what Hamlin described as “basically a glorified 300-line spreadsheet” to select the options they want to have included with their product. Instead, a “superconfigurator” allows shoppers to customize their orders in “five easy steps,” and options can be described via text or by pop-up “avatars” — Dell managers who explain technologies, products and services via video clips.

Hamlin reported that Dell makes $16 billion annually online and sees 2.5 billion page requests per quarter. He noted that more than half of what Dell sells to consumers originates from the site, adding “Virtually everyone has used the Web in some capacity [during the shopping process] even if not for the final purchase.” He said Dell has an “intense understanding of the customer” due to the company’s ability to perform detailed tracking on Web clicks.

Hamlin said the company’s earlier announcement to migrate away from its promotion-filled model toward an “everyday low price” strategy was also part of the redesign. He noted that all promotions are now listed in one area of the site, a measure likely to eliminate the frustration experienced in the past by frequently changing promotional deals.

Among the online support services offered is the company’s relatively new Dell Connect feature which allows Dell technicians to access and repair PCs remotely. Hamlin said that the company has seen over 1.5 million sessions with the new feature and he reports more than 95 percent customer satisfaction.

In other Tech Day news, Dell said that strong sales at its first brick-and-mortar store, which opened this summer in Dallas, has convinced the company to open more of the 3,000-square-foot shops on a city-by-city basis.