N+I: Dell demos new Web sales features

N+I: Dell demos new Web sales features

In his keynote last week at Networld+Interop Michael Dell showed off new features of his company's Web site designed to make it easier to buy Dell Computer products online.

He also joked about his competition: when asked in a question-and-answer session to name three things that get him out of bed each day, the chairman and CEO of Dell instantly quipped, "Beating IBM, beating Compaq, and beating HP."

In response to a question about whether Dell would consider buying Compaq if its stock price dropped low enough, Dell said, "It doesn't occur to us that the right approach is to amalgamate a bunch of companies.

"Our focus is on serving our customers extremely well," he added, "and not being distracted by other things that go on in the industry."

Direct pioneer

Dell spent most of his talk discussing how well online sales are going for his company, which pioneered the direct online sales model for PCs.

Dell's Premier Page, which he described as a "vertical portal for customers", generates about $US100 million in revenue per week from about 2.5 million visitors per week. It has more than 100 terabytes of data storage, uses 350 Dell PowerEdge servers, links to four data centres in three continents and uses Windows NT, he said.

"Large, highly scalable e-commerce sites can be built on NT and Dell is proving it," Dell said, with some boosterism on behalf of partner Microsoft.

In the future, Dell will automate the payables process and later this year it plans to integrate its system with its customers' ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, according to a Dell executive who gave the demo.

Currently, Dell gets 25 per cent of its sales online and expects that to double in the next couple of years, Dell said.

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