The report presents an overview of the e-commerce business conducted by the Dell Inc around the world. The technologies, its uses and the website design principles it adheres to. The report is divided into two sections; the first section critically evaluates the Dell’s website in terms of the context of use, usability, page layout, navigation, and information content. The author recommends some legal and ethical issues which are to be addressed while implementing an e-commerce business.
In the second section, the author discusses the business models which are being applied by the Dell Inc in marketing and selling its products through e-commerce website and the technologies involved in supporting the models which are applied.
With the success of Internet in providing information and its widespread usage, a new form of business evolved in the form of e-business. E-business is being used as a tool for developing a new channel for marketing of products. It affects all the aspects of the enterprise and changes the way the business functions. One of the best examples of the success of e-commerce can be judged from the success of Dell Inc. It provides all its business process integration such as marketing, selling, hardware maintenance, customer support through its e-commerce website with no outlets for distribution in particular. (Schneider, 2003)
The following sections would critically evaluate the e-business strategy applied by Dell Inc in the successful working of an e-business. The first part of the report would be on critical evaluation of the key characteristics of dell’s website. In the second part
The report would identify and assess the business models applied by Dell Inc for its e-business.
2. Critical Evaluation of E-business
Dell provides an integrated approach for e-business strategy involving all the aspects of its business into one unique “direct business model”. According to its chairman Michael Dell, the strategic corporate initiative taken up by Dell Inc, is based on four principles, viz, driving global business, achieving product leadership, enhancing the customer experience, and developing winning culture. All these principles have found ground on the basis of its e-commerce initiative. Hence in order to study the business model applied by Dell Inc, its important to go through the engineering applied in the Dell Inc’s e-commerce website.
The following sections would evaluate the Dell Inc’s website (www.dell.com) in terms of its context, usability, HCI principles application, navigation and information content.
For evaluating any e-commerce website, the first thing to look out for is the context in which it is to be used and whether that particular website is adhering to the context for which it is being developed and maintained. In case of Dell website, the context for which its e-commerce website is developed is to provide an integrated service of marketing, selling, customising products, providing technical support, customer service through e-mails. All these functions are integrated in a single channel of Dell’s e-commerce website.
As per the author’s perspective, Dell’s website does satisfy its integrated approach towards direct business model. The e-commerce website provides different sections on the website which are exclusively dedicated to the particular functioning of a particular business process. In particular the author would like to mention the proper use of the recommendation section where the customers are given recommendations based on their particular needs. Such recommendations are based on the knowledge gained from previous transactions as well as the particular technology for particular use. The website categorises its users based on their particular requirements and then recommends the products which are best suitable according to their requirements. This is a huge step towards customer satisfaction as the user does not have to be am computer expert to gain a understanding of the products which would suit him/her. The website is customised according to the country of operation hence categorizing the customers according to the region to which they belong.
The look of the e-commerce website plays an important role in the success of it between the user communities. The various principles of Human Computer Interaction are to be applied to check whether the user would like to use a particular website or not. The first and the foremost part is the clear and simple layout and language of the presentation. It is recommended to avoid jargon and complex sentence structures. Another recommendation is to use single paragraph for each idea. The author’s perspective of the Dell’s e-commerce website views it as a well designed web content with proper application of the linguistic principles. The website uses simple and easy to understand language, hence creates a good impact on the user.
In terms of the usability criteria, the Dell’s website allows users to create accounts and store their preferences of products. It gives a feel of personalisation which is an important parameter for customer satisfaction.
Another important factor while evaluating the usability of websites is its page layout and navigational mechanisms provided for easily finding the required information within a few clicks. The Dell’s e-commerce website has good navigational mechanisms with appropriate number of links on each page to browse other pages. It provides a “You are here” section which describes the exact location of a customer in the website. The customer can directly go to the home page from where he/she started with a single click. It represents a good navigational design principle and author’s review on it is as excellent navigational mechanisms applied.
iInformation content provided on the websites should be related in context of the website. The information should be adequate with no inconsistencies. The information content has to be informative with proper reasoning and definitions. As a whole the website should be informative with a proper mix of depth in information with not too much detail or too less information. The Dell’s website has all the qualities to be called as a good informative website.
In addition to the layout characteristics, the organisation providing e-business has to deal with the legal and privacy issues involved in the business functioning. The website should provide a comprehensive coverage of the legal issues and define the parties involved in legal terms. The privacy of the customer is also an important aspect for the success of e-commerce websites. In addition, the security aspect of the financial transactions is of paramount importance. The author would like to review each of this aspect of the Dell’s website in detail. Turban et al. (2000) have stressed that when it comes to legal issues, the laws are enacted by the authorities which are strict, legal rules which govern all the acts of people and organisations within its jurisdiction. On the other hand, the e-commerce business has to follow some ethical issues as well. Ethics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the conscience of right and wrong. In today’s world, it has been found that sometimes the act which is not ethical is not necessarily illegal unless it happens to disobey the law of the land.
The legal documents should be provided in the electronic from to the customers through websites, so that if in future any irregularities happen, then company can refer the customers towards its terms and conditions section. It is always a good practice that all parties involved in financial transactions should have a clear idea about their positions and rights. Hence the Dell’s website provides a section in website which clearly states out the terms and conditions of the transactions which are carried out through their e-commerce website. (Turban et al., 2000)
The author would recommend a four step action plan for gaining customer confidence on e-commerce website. They are discussed a below:
- Privacy: Privacy can be defined as the collection, storage, usage, and dissemination of personal information involved in financial transaction with the e-commerce website. In any case scenario, the customer’s personal data is either given to external agencies or only used for internal information in gaining the knowledge of customer buying patterns. The author recommends that the e-commerce website should never share its information outside of the company. This would create confidence between its customers who would then not hesitate to give out their personal details.
- Intellectual Property Rights: It is important for any successful e-commerce website to honour the intellectual property rights of other organisations or individuals. The author recommends this practice to be continued.
- Censorship: The author would like to recommend the free flow of customer’s responses towards particular products. The e-commerce website should provide a forum where the customers can give their opinions on the products they have used. In addition, the e-commerce website can take help of the external unbiased agencies in evaluating their products. This would give the customers the satisfaction on the products quality.
- Protection against fraud: The e-commerce website should be responsible for any fraud that could have occurred through the use of their online system. The author is in favour of such a system.
Business models applied and technologies supporting
The business model applied by Dell Inc is the “Direct Business Model” which allows the direct sale of the computer equipment to the customers through its e-commerce web solutions. The business model is unique in the sense of its integration of all the services required for selling and maintaining of computer equipment. The direct business model removes the cost of middle-men and the cost of opening and maintaining the outlets. Hence this type of direct selling to the customers give cost advantage to the organisation, which can then transfer that saved financial resources in giving customers a better deal. This type of model places the organisation in direct contact with the customers, where the company can know the customers’ response to a particular technology, pricing range, customer demand, popular choice. All this information is directly processed from customers who place the Dell Inc into a unique position in the e-commerce business.
Another business model that Dell Inc. applied is giving its customers the chance to choose particular parts with their computers. This type of customisation is not possible with any other business group. Customers can choose the configuration of the system, the additional peripherals, and the required software. This has proved to be an excellent customer satisfaction opportunity for Dell Inc.
In addition, the Dell Inc’s e-commerce website have characterised its customer base according to the pricing range, the users needs and various other parameters. If the user is a home user who does not need much computing power and wants to use his/her computer as an entertainment device and Internet browsing, then accordingly, the Dell’s website recommends that particular customer the configuration he/she should go for. This type of recommendations are particularly helpful for people who have little or limited knowledge about the computer configurations.
These types of modelling and customisation requires high cutting-edge computing concepts such as “software agents” which gather user information and based on the knowledge gained from the previous experiences, the users are given the advice. The agent’s concept is a new concept in data mining where each transaction is a source of information and is analysed to feed the needs of future customers. The Dell Inc’s e-commerce website uses fraud prevalent mechanisms such as credit card encryption through various security mechanisms. (Pereira, Song and Gorgulho, 2006)
The report discussed two aspects of the e-commerce business conducted by Dell Inc, through its website. The first part of the report was concerned with the critical evaluation of the e-business through its website. This section also addresses the legal and ethical issues which are to be addressed in implementing and maintaining a e-commerce website. The author has specifically discussed the issues of privacy, intellectual rights, censorship and protection against fraud. The author recommends the e-commerce organisation to take responsibility for providing the appropriate level of privacy required in the system. It should also take the responsibility of protecting the users against any fraud through financial transactions.
In the second part of the report, the author has analysed the business models applied by Dell Inc’s website and the technologies supporting them.