Describe and Evaluate a Major Corporation’s Website in These Four Areas
Dell product information is subdivided into five sections. These subdivisions ensure that customers can access the product information effectively. The home product information subsection displays products for low end customers. The next subsection is the small and home office product information. This displays products, such as laptops, ultra books and tablets, desktops and workstations. The third subsection displays information for small and medium business. The fourth subsection includes the product information for education, government and healthcare. Lastly, the product information entails details for the large enterprise. Ignatiuk says that:
In all these five subsections of product information, the company’s website integrates product innovations and exceptional features into its products, which have successfully developed into differentiators and competitive advantage (2009).
In order to target international customers and make it easier for them to learn about Dell’s products and offers, the company developed customized versions of its product information for almost every existing country in over 30 different languages. The author Ignatiuk mentions that through product information subsection customers can choose their products design by themselves (2009). In addition, on the company’s website, customers can find a large variety of different colors and patterns available for Dell’s different products. The product information, Dell offers a wide range of warranty options and services which customers can call upon. Baumann (2010) noted that the purpose of the product information is to advertise, as well as to allow interaction with customers and provide support regarding products, drivers and order status.
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Corporation Contact Information
Each customer page includes the contact information for a dedicated account team at Dell. Baumann claims that Dell’s contact information is divided in to five sections which play a fundamental role in the customer support (2010). These sections include contacts to technical support, Dell sales, Dell financial services, customer service and international laptop warranty support. The technical support contacts help customers to troubleshoot and fix hardware and operating system issues or ask questions about their warranty.
The Dell Sales contact section helps customers to get help before purchasing or making a purchase. Through this section, customers are able to interact with Dell sales to match their needs with right products. The Dell financial services contact section helps customers to request assistance with financing in areas, such as making payments, applying for financing, and enables consumers to request a copy of their statement. The customer service contact subsection assists customers with recent purchases to inquire about the order status, delivery, returns, invoices or other order-related issues. The last subsection is the international laptop warranty support. This section helps customers to receive support for their notebooks, while travelling internationally with an international warranty.
Customization of Products for Customers
Hill & Jones (2012) noted that Dell website allows consumers to get their orders accustomed to a degree which could have been unfathomable in the era of pre-web. Customers are allowed to match and mix product features, such as memory, microprocessors, monitors, CD and DVD drives, internal hard drives, mouse and keyboard formats, and in order to buy the system that best fits exceptionally well to their individual requirements. Hill & Jones (2012) considers that when allowing people to configure their order, the Dell increases the customer’s responsiveness by differentiating itself from competitors. Hill & Jones articulated that:
Through the customization of products for its customers, Dell has moved far from its functions of customer service to the web, reducing the need of phone calls to representatives of the customer service and saving money in the process (2012).
Customers through this feature can review, configure, and price systems within Dell’s entire product line, order systems online and track their orders from manufacturing through the shipping.
Customer Information at Purchase
Customer information at purchase is effective, because the company uses Internet-based customer ordering and procurement systems. Hill & Jones state that Dell uses customer information at purchase in order to manage the supply chain feeding the real time information on the order flow to company’s suppliers (2012). Company’s suppliers use the customer information during the purchase in order to better schedule the production of their own on the real time basis by providing on a just-in-time basis different components to Dell. Customer information after purchase is stored in a backup server, and is easily accessible for the future use in a secure setting.
Dell uses the customer information at a purchase to build the long-term, personalized, and profitable relationship with each customer. The goal of storing customer after the purchase is to reduce costs through the customer retention, and increase the revenue through customer’s loyalty. Hill & Jones state that all personal information about the customer is recorded in a customized database that serves as the valuable market research information for business planning activities (2012).
Describe and Evaluate Three of the Corporation’s Internet Marketing Strategies and the Competitive Advantages Its Website Provides
Dell has pioneering leadership in the use of Internet and e-commerce technology (Umar, 2010). Dell has been a leader in using Internet and e-commerce technologies to squeeze the greater efficiency out of its supply chain activities, to streamline the order of delivering process, to encourage the greater customer use of its website, and to gather and use all types of information. Umar argues that Dell is prospectively realizing Internet associated efficiencies in its business including procurement, relationship management and customer support (2010). The company uses Internet marketing strategies to support its global customers and suppliers and tied suppliers, customers and internal operations electronically.
Dell uses personalized web pages as a marketing strategy. This is done by offering the customer the opportunity to personalize a particular section to their own preferences. Umar
(2010) notes that:
“Through the use of premiere page to create personalized web pages, customers can review, configure and price systems within Dell’s entire product line, order systems online and track orders from manufacturing through the shipping” (9).
The main competitive advantage of Dell website is the premiere page program that serves as the largest Dell’s corporate, government, and educational account. This implies that, when Dell wins an account with more than 400 employees, it builds a premiere page for the new account and links it directly to Dell’s system for quick order placements and configurations. As a result, more than $30 million Dell computers are ordered per day in this way. This gives Dell’s website a competitive edge over its competitors in its Internet marketing strategy.
The second Internet marketing strategy used by Dell is its ability to build a receptive opt-in email list which takes its customer-obsessed direct sales practices and enhance them using the website. Umar (2010) states that:
The key to Dell’s success in the use of opt-in email list as an online marketing strategy is the ability to understand the Internet’s role and its relationship to all other elements of the firm marketing strategy.
Through its website, Dell suppliers are tied into the Dell extranet to help them coordinate their inventories and activities around the order activity. Through this strategy Dell is able to accurately forecast and segment customer’s demand and identify shifts in demand early. Ignatiuk says that through this online marketing strategy the company gains the real-time information about its customers (2009). Customers can go online and directly order its self-customized products and services. Within this online marketing strategy, the company launched its Direct2Dell corporate blog. The company also launched the customer idea engine IdeaStorm and various online forums for business clients (Umar, 2010). In that way, Dell obtained as much customer feedback and information as possible, in order to improve its products, solutions and services and build up trust between the company and its professional customers.
Thirdly, Dell has enhanced and broadened fundamental competitive advantages of the direct model by using EON’s Solution to enable efficiencies of Internet to its entire business. Umar says that, as a result of this strategy, Dell is operating one of the biggest volume Internet commerce sites in the world (2010). In this context, Dell uses EON’s Solution to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors. This is because the solution has changed the on-line buying experience for Dell’s customers by providing them with an easy way to access the necessary information for making online decisions. Umar (2010) argues that “the content solution from EON allows Dell to visually display key features and install show the configuration of accessories” (p. 8). The use of this online marketing strategy provides a compelling buying experience for customers, because they are able to see product demonstration and visual configuration of accessories online before the actual purchase of the product.
Analyze and Evaluate the Corporation’s Privacy/Security Policy and the Corporation’s Response to the Security Breach
In 2010, Dell produced one security breach report on its customer information. Herold (2010) says that as a result of the sensitive nature of topic, the company was not willing to share lessons learned from investigating the security breach. The majority of customer records breached involved the use of hacking and malware. The attacks used specially crafted malware that was extremely hard to detect and remove with current technological security controls. Herold (2010) says that while only 17% of attacks used difficult attack techniques, such as malware; they resulted in over 95% of the total customer records breached.
Dell does not fully comply with the regulation in that the company does not provide the sufficient information regarding identifiers, anonymity, cross-border data flows and sensitive information as required by the NPPs (2009).
Chen & Fadlalla further say that Dell has not fully respected consumer’s safety regarding privacy (2009). Also, there has been insufficient formal evaluation of how Dell’s codes of conduct improve the level of privacy protection. Chen & Fadlalla argues that most of Dell’s collaboration with industry and consumer association has taken place in the United States and not in other countries (2009).
Recommend and Provide Rationale for Two Methods and or Tools to Ensure Greater Security for Customers
The protection of consumer’s privacy depends much on the willingness and the ability of Dell to practice social corporate responsibility (Chen & Fadlalla, 2009). The company should adopt self-regulatory measures to protect their customer’s privacy. Shopping online offers benefits that cannot be found when shopping in a store or by mail. The Dell website is always open 24/7 and customers can make numerous purchases online. The following two tools can be used to ensure the greater security for customers.
The first tool customers should use is a secure browser. Herold mentioned that, when customers access web 2.0 services, they often do so using the software applications that have, thus, far proved quite vulnerable (2010). Internet browsers, usually the vehicle of choice for accessing web 2.0 services, are easily compromised and often used in early stages of an attack. For example Herold noted that in 2009 browser hacking contest, one contestant was able to exploit three main browsers at the same day (2010). Newman (2009) says that browsers should comply with standards of industry security, such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Such standards scramble the purchase process information sent over the Internet, in order to help to secure any transactions. The use of secure browser helps to protect the confidentiality of customer’s information. This includes the consumer’s account number and payment information to Internet. Shen & Huang noted that secure browser protects the data integrity in the context of ensuring that the consumer to business payment information cannot be tampered (2011).
The second tool customers should use is to pay by the credit card. Newman (2009) says that when paying by credit card online, transactions would be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. According to this act, consumers are empowered to dispute charges under definite circumstances and also temporarily withhold the payment, in the process when the creditor is investigating them.
Newman further states that in the event of unauthorized use of charge or credit card, cardholders would be generally held liable for the first $50 in charges only (2009). Moreover, some companies advise an online shopping guarantee which ensures that customers would not be held responsible for any online unauthorized charges, and some cards might provide additional return, warranty and/or purchase protection benefits.
The use of credit cards ensures the enhanced security of online transactions. Shen & Huang (2011) say that the most widely used VISA and MasterCard credit cards use secure electronic transaction protocol (SET). The core technologies employed in these protocols include the public key encryption, digital signatures, electronic envelops and electronic security certificate. Shen & Huang (2011) argues that:
SET protocol is mainly used to address customers, merchants and banks to pay by credit card transaction security designed to ensure the confidentiality of payment information, complete the payment process, the legal status of dealers and cardholders and interoperability.
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