Let’s face it. Dell.com’s ecommerce engine is a bit of an ugly duckling.

Compared to competitive sites that display slick, animated marketing content and provide simple, click-through ecommerce progressions, Dell.com appears static, cluttered, and complicated.

But, once you get past the site’s uninspired page design and overwhelming information footprint, you’ll find it has unique attributes that make it a shoo-in for the eCommerce category’s top spot.

So, what are the secrets to Dell.com’s ecommerce success?

It’s not your average ecommerce experience

What’s most important to understand about Dell.com’s buying process is that it’s a completely different animal compared to most of its competitors.

While most consumer sites have a single product family with a limited number of product configuration options, Dell.com allows visitors to configure their product down to the smallest detail. This not only influences its configuration process but also the site’s navigation and marketing structure.

Most consumer websites put slick marketing up front, then quickly slide visitors into configuring their product. Dell.com, on the other hand, has visitors begin finding a product based on the specs, then start the configuration and marketing process. In other words, rich content marketing takes a back seat to selling the product based on its speeds and feeds.

There is no arguing that Dell.com’s approach is primarily tailored to the techie set. Novices will likely find the product options to initially be overwhelming. However, Dell.com does go the extra mile to ensure that technical novices and geniuses alike have the resources they need to put together the product they really want.

It’s incredibly logical

“Dead easy to configure, checkout, and buy. You could fall off a horse and probably end up buying a laptop and accessories on the way down”

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Appearance aside, Dell.com’s ecommerce engine is very logical. Dell.com goes out of its way to lead the visitor through the buying process by clearly identifying product selections and purchasing steps.  

The site’s main strength is the simple navigation nomenclatures that make it easy for visitors to make the right selection the first time. Each product family includes a short description that helps distinguish one from the other. The product configuration section also uses everyday words and phrases to identify each component.

The product configuration process is another highlight of Dell.com’s ecommerce system. Each selection is displayed in a large box that is easy to see and click. This information includes the name of the component, the price, and the upcharge for higher quality items. Buyers that aren’t familiar with specific parts can click on the “Help Me Choose” link and get a full explanation about the component.

Once the buyer has configured their product, they begin a simple step-by-step progression that asks them to choose additional software and accessories. Each button that moves the visitor to the next step identifies the topic, so they know what to expect.

Finally, the shopping cart page displays a panel that indicates the final steps necessary to complete the purchase and identifies where the buyer is in the process. This allows buyers to anticipate the transactions they need to perform to make it to the finish line.

It has filters galore

Dell.com lists an astounding number of filtering options customized to the product type. This means there isn’t any “one-size-fits-all” filtering. Unless visitors make a selection, all the filtering options are available.

Best of all, the filters appeal to laypeople and experts alike. Novices that want a pink 2-in-1 will be able to find what they are looking for just as quickly as techies that can’t live without SSD storage.

It delivers true one-stop-shopping

All the information about a product is on one screen. This isn’t limited to tech specs and product reviews. It includes a listing of compatible accessories and access to technical support resources. While all this content makes the pages exceptionally long, it shortens the marketing clickstream to almost zero, makes information easy to find, and ensures that visitors won’t get lost as they research the product.

Its comparison system is fall-off-a-log easy to use

Some product sets have side-by-side comparisons built into the navigation clickstream. Once a product family is selected, the page displays the models in a matrix format that allows visitors to see the specs next to each other. However, if the visitors want to limit their view to two or three specific models, all they need to do is click on the “Add to Compare” checkbox above each product image.

Its calls to action can’t be ignored

Dell.com’s ecommerce site isn’t short on calls to action. When comparing products, the website uses sticky headers to make the product price, “Add to Cart,” and “Customize Now” buttons viewable no matter where visitors are on the page. This noticeable nudge not-so-subtly encourages visitors to begin the purchasing process.

Buyers that have started the configuration process will notice that the “Add to Cart” panel follows them down the page as they make their selections. Even better, the price dynamically updates if they add higher-priced components, which helps them configure the product to fit their budget.

For visitors that need more handholding, there is the ever-present “We’re here for you” tab on the side of the page that provides online chat, a phone number, and an email link. The only thing that would make it better is to have the hours of availability for the chat and phone functions.

Final Thoughts

Dell.com’s ecommerce system may not be the most beautiful of the lot, but it goes out of its way to support technical experts and novices alike. It does this by:

  • Walking the buyer throughout the entire progression by letting them know where they are in each step of the process.
  • Providing a wealth of filters to help visitors find the perfect product.
  • Putting all the information in one location, so visitors don’t get lost.
  • Making it easy to compare products side-by-side.
  • Displaying calls to action on every pixel of the page to help visitors start the purchasing process or get help choosing the perfect product.

When taken together, these features elevate this duckling into a swan that swims laps around even the most sophisticated competitive sites.

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