Founded by Michael Dell as a computer manufacturer, Dell was in the business of selling PCs direct to consumers by 1990. Today the brand is one of the largest online retailers.
Dell began selling to consumers through catalogs, but got into e-commerce by 1996. By 1997, Dell was making $1 million a day over the Internet, a great feat in a time when most companies didn't yet have online stores.
“Being able to sell this much demonstrated to us the pent-up demand for being able to buy computers online,” said Manish Mehta, co-founder of Dell. “We were one of the first companies to sell complex products over the Web.”
In the mid-1990s, Amazon and eBay were the other large online retailers, and they were selling much cheaper items that involved less specialization. To help sell computers, a higher price-point that included some personalization, Dell used an online configurator that customers could use to select the type of processor, how much memory they wanted and add on some options, such as a sound device card.
Later on, Dell began using affiliate marketing, search and e-mail to promote its e-commerce store.
The company's marketing is still active in all of these channels. In 2007, Dell also brought its computers to the retail space.