Intense competition in Dell’s PC markets can put pressure on both profits and prices. If Dell’s prices are too high relative to the competition, the company stands to lose market share to its competitors. This forces Dell to maintain a balance between per-unit profit margins and market share.
After the company sent my newly purchased power cord to not only the wrong address but the wrong state, I gave them a call last night, explaining the situation and asking for either a full or partial refund for the $93.27 I had spent, a fee that included rushed shipping.
They told me they couldn’t do that, even though I now have to drive up to Lancaster County, PA from Baltimore, MD to collect it from my parents where they erroneously sent it.
In Dell customer service’s defense, they were very nice but very firm that they could not do anything other than ship me a new one. Even the suggestion of returning the extra charge for my rushed shipping was met with definitive No’s.
I understand policy and program limitations better than many people considering my own stint in Member Services, where I worked the phones, listened to issues and helped whom I could. Believe me when I say, there is almost always a way you can give money back… It’s just a matter of whether you choose to or not.
(Yes, what you always suspected was true. Those reps on the other side of your phone call really could help you if they really wanted to. So a piece of advice if you ever do want to get your own way: Be nice. It works more often than you might think.)
But with that little rant to the side, I’ve been doing some research into other options (i.e. anything but a Dell.)
Once the most successful computer company in the world, Dell has since slipped behind HP in global computer market share.
But this is old news, Michael Dell is back to change things around, right?
Well, he is back. But will he be able to change things around?
Dell’s original business model was a stroke of genius. It was one of the only computer companies to only sell direct. Not only that, they made it very easy for small business to partner with them, making it a dominant player in the small business industry. Additionally, their corporate partnerships division allowed major corporations to benefit from volume purchases while Dell was laughing all the way to the bank.
Dell computers were also once viewed as state-of-the-art, top line computers. Their brand allowed them to put big price tags on a cheap product, cut all the middle men out and have huge profit margins. What happened?
Several things. Most importantly, Michael Dell left the position of CEO and their whole business model changed. Instead of selling direct, they dumped resources into a retail division of the company. This is a space that other computer companies such as Toshiba, HP & Acer have been in for decades. Needless to say, they dumped their money into this division and saw that sales and profit margins were just not hitting their targets.
So what did they do? Lowered prices! That ought to boost sales, right?
Well, sure retail sales got a slight boost, but the damage to the brand is irrevocable, and profit margins suffered significantly. Now instead of a prestigious computer brand that you could only purchase through a partner or online, you have a cheap computer that is competing with the likes of small-timers like Lenovo Group (LNVGY).
Now Dell is in a tough position. Last year they lost 2.5% of their market share, and in a 25 Billion dollar a year industry, that is a significant loss. Their business model is not as profitable, and competition is getting stiff, especially with an Apple (AAPL) revolution already in progress, things are looking grim for poor old Dell.