When I initially complained about Dell.com's hideous structure I was working inside Dell's Global Online Group. While I thought I was agreeing with one of the key players in architecting Dell out of the "cow path" structure, I almost lost my new job for being insubordinate. (Here is Manish Mehta's Un-concreting the Cow Path post on Direct to Dell) I never forgot that lesson. But I never completely agreed with the status quo solution either. I don't believe the executive leadership is any more interested in hearing my solution now then they were when I worked for them, but it's a good exercise for me. And perhaps it demonstrates some understanding of the "business" issues.
The objection I got from several Dell friends when I showed them my "Fixing Dell.com" slide was, "You know that's not fair. 90% of Dell's business is from business customers not consumers." AND "You didn't offer the real solution. What about the business?"
Okay, so here is my premise. When a "customer" enters Dell.com, regardless of their roll as a corporate leader or as the uber soccer mom getting their kid ready for college, they should be able to find a computer and get a fair price. Today that is simply not possible. I've outlined my entire exposé of this problem here: Losing My Way on Dell.com and my initial fix here: How To Fix Dell.com (part 1)
So today I hope to silence the "but it's not about the consumer" rumblings with my "business" solution.
Knowing a little about the inside workings, here's how I see Dell.com today.
So today, there are really three versions of Dell.com. The problem is the consumer can't make sense of them, and the pricing is not level across all of the segments. Dell made things even worse by introducing a Small Business "path" for the 1 – 9 person business. (Seriously Dell? Another path we need to price?)
Level 1 is Dell.com
Level 2 is the Business Portals
Level 3 is called Dell Premier (unless you are a large customer you will never hear or see about "premier."
My argument is that all business customers should be "Premier" in Dell's eyes. And today that relationship has never been more important. But Dell does a terrible job of servicing the small and medium business customers. And the reason is, 80% of Dell's revenue comes from large business. (Please update or correct my percentage if you have better Dell numbers. Thank you.) So, only the BIG customers get the Premier-treatment.
So today, if you are a consumer, small business owner, medium business owner, or large business owner who has yet to establish a Premier status, you must shop Dell.com and all it's channels and paths and arcane pricing strategies.
Try an experiment. Open Dell.com and find the price on a Latitude with a 14.5" screen and the newest i5 processor from Intel. Go ahead, I'll wait. And wait. And wait.
If you do your due diligence you are going to need an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the deals, offers, immediate pricing, and PATH-BASED PRICING that you must sort through on Dell.com.
I do not believe Dell has to know who you are to give you a great price on a Latitude. If they would institute unified pricing on Dell.com you could find the computer you want, ONCE, on ONE PATH, and purchase it. IF they would institute unified pricing you would not have to worry or wonder if the Small Business price was better or worse. Or if you should try the Enterprise (Large Business) version of Dell.com and see if you get a better price.
And you know what happens? You NEVER GET THE SAME PRICE TWICE on DELL.COM. Completely depending on which path you go do, you will get different prices, different product models, even completely different brands. So it's a bit confusing if you saw a friend's Vostro computer and you go to Dell.com and can't find ANY VOSTRO models.
That's a problem. A big problem. And it affects EVERY BUSINESS that is not on DELL PREMIER. Because I have gotten better pricing on computers in the Consumer channel even when I was preparing to buy 10 laptops. And the customer does not care if it's called an Inspiron or a Vostro or a Lattitude. You can tell them why they should care, but features and benefits will out weigh BRANDING every time.
So here's my Dell.com "for business" solution.
The full solution is available from Slideshare.net: Fixing Dell.com (Part 2) The Business Side
Dell.com gets rid of all the cow path (silos) pricing and gives the CUSTOMER the opportunity to compair all models with ONE PRICE. (Today it's like a used car lot, you've got to check every lot in town and you've got to haggle about price.)
ADD DellPro.com and put every "business" customer that wants to be identified as such the opportunity to buy at the "business" price. Give them a site. Direct them to their page, once they register. And give them whatever pricing you want to negotiate with them based on their size, their needs, their buying power. And of course as these accounts get bigger they become more "premier" focused in Dell's eyes and are serviced by an army of direct sales people who will negotiate contracts and do competitive pricing.
But the CONSUMER and really the CUSTOMER on Dell.com does not need to be segmented to get a fair price. And they should not need to go down 4 or 5 pricing models to make sure they are getting the best deal they can, based on their needs. If they are a BUSINESS give them the red carpet and give them the customized site and pricing they deserve.
The win for Dell will be a streamlined purchase path that sells more computers and keeps people on Dell.com rather than pushing them to CDW or Best Buy. The win for the CUSTOMER regardless of their business relationship with Dell will be the ability for them to get the actual PRICE of a computer on Dell.com without playing endless bait and switch games with Model numbers, specs, and segment pricing.
I know they are listening. I will get feedback on this post and presentation as well. And I'm sure I am getting something wrong.
The sad thing is I am sure that they will not actually listen. And the customer will continue to buy Dell's from Best Buy rather than Dell.com. But hey, maybe Dell would rather sell you a TV or a phone.
See the full presentation on Slideshare.net: Fixing Dell.com (Part 2) The Business Side
Several Dell Decks and Posts I've created:
- Losing My Way on Dell.com < How the Retailer Still Confuses and Coupons Us To Death
- How To Fix Dell.com – And Dell's Branding Crisis (Un-concreting the Cow Path)
- Dell's Laptop Branding – 2009 (slideshare)
- Dell's Sub-Branding Nightmare – 2009 (slideshare)
- How to Fix Dell.com in One Slide – 2012 (slideshare)
- Dell's STUDIO Brand Mistake – 2008 (slideshare)
Other posts about kicking ass in social media:
- Why It Would Suck to be Dell or HP Right Now: Apple, the German Car of Consumer Electronics
- Twitter Broke the ReTweet Awhile Ago, Making Lazy RT-ers of Us; Do It Yourself
- The Social Economy: I'm Trying to Give It Away, What's the Problem? (So Is Everyone Else)
- Do Your Slides Resonate? How Slideshare Sets a Higher Standard for Your Presentation
- Is Pinterest More Than Shoes, Skirts, and Happy Kitty Pictures? < But Is It A Social Network?
- Love, Valentine's Day Marketing, and Computers: Dell vs. Apple Marketing
- Social Media MBA – The Reading List
- Pinterest and the Power of Social Bookmarking: Tag Yourself (Web Design is Dead)
- The ROI of Social Media – It’s Easy, Right? (return on investment)