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Dell Enhances Online Marketing Capabilities and Improves Site Performance with Commerce Server 2000

Published: September 2001

To improve performance and enable complex online marketing campaigns, Dell upgraded its online commerce platform from Microsoft Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition to Commerce Server 2000. The flexible component-based architecture and extensive prebuilt functionality in Commerce Server enabled Dell to implement its new campaign capabilities in just six weeks of development time. The comprehensive campaign management system integrates with Dell’s existing customer relationship management (CRM) system, moving the company much closer to its goal of a true closed-loop online marketing environment.

Company Overview

Dell Computer Corporation is the world’s leading direct computer system provider, with the company’s award-winning customer service, industry-leading growth, and superior financial performance continuing to differentiate Dell from its competitors. At the heart of this success is Dell’s direct-to-customer business model, enabling the company to maximize its ability to meet customer expectations while avoiding the unnecessary time and costs associated with retailers or other resellers. To Dell, the Internet is the purest and most efficient form of the direct model, providing greater convenience and efficiency to customers and, in turn, to Dell.

To Dell, “direct” refers to the company’s relationships with its customers, from home PC users to the world’s largest corporations. Approximately one-third of Dell’s U.S.$28 billion in annual revenues is achieved through the company’s Home and Small Business (HSB) Division, with the remainder generated from sales to medium and large businesses and institutional customers. HSB also maintains ownership of Dell’s online accessories store, which offers users a complete selection of nearly 30,000 competitively priced software and peripheral products from leading manufacturers, carefully selected to complement Dell’s systems.

Business Challenge

As a premier system provider to many other e-commerce companies, Dell strongly believes in using the products it recommends and sells. Toward this end, Dell traditionally has relied on Microsoft Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition (SSCE) to provide significant portions of the e-commerce functionality needed for Dell’s complex Web site.

“Site Server 3.0 provided great shopping cart and checkout functionality along with other benefits, but we were still looking for ways to improve performance and get closer to our customers,” says Gregg Hansen, Development Manager for Dell HSB. “Specifically, we wanted the ability to implement campaigns and use coupons. This presented challenges due to the heterogeneous environment we had in place, with commerce functionality provided by SSCE, customer data residing in a third-party CRM solution, and a mixed bag of applications used to mine the data.”

Solution

To improve performance and facilitate complex online marketing campaigns, Dell decided to upgrade from Microsoft Site Server to Commerce Server 2000. The company took a phased approach, first upgrading to Commerce Server to achieve greater performance and stability, followed by implementation of the new functionality it provided that would improve the company’s e-marketing capabilities. “The ‘componentized’ nature of Commerce Server 2000 allowed us to easily break the project into phases,” says Hansen. “Phase one consisted of upgrading the platform before the holiday lockdown, with phase two focused on implementing the new functionality provided by Commerce Server 2000 to improve our campaign capabilities.”

Phase 1: Greater Performance and Stability; Enhanced Management Capabilities

After phase one, consisting primarily of the platform upgrade from Site Server to Commerce Server 2000, Dell saw significant performance improvements in the areas of shopping cart management and user checkout. “We took...
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