Dell Germany Readies Second Year Internet Sales Push

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FRANKFURT - Dell Germany is launching a determined drive to bring more of its installed base - and new prospects - to its Internet site where it has been selling computers worth DM1 million ($571,000) a week since before Christmas.

"We only started selling on the Internet early last year and have been so successful that we are starting a direct mail, advertising and website campaign to bring more customers to the net," Roland Haertner, Dell Germany's marketing director, said.

In order to meet rising demand Dell late last month bought a factory in Ireland that should double the company's European production capacity. "We'll start manufacturing in about two months and have added 3,000 new jobs to the Irish economy."

The campaign, Haertner said, will explain all the advantages website buying provides customers.

"Anyone who buys on the Internet from us gets an order number played back within 24 hours and with that number he can follow fulfillment of his order.

"He'll know when work begins, when it is completed, packed, turned over to UPS and he can even see when his box is put on a truck, on a boat to the UK and then on a plane to Germany.

"Our Internet customers can also buy peripherals, drives and software. That kind of thing is much in demand. If somebody has a virus that knocked out a key component he can download it directly."

Large customers like Daimler Benz are given their own Internet shops when they sign a Dell contract that allows ordering products directly on the Web.

Dell puts attractive offers on line. Some allow customers to configure the kind of computer they want to buy directly on the Web. "They can literally build their own computer," Haertner said, "and they will know up front how much it is going to cost."

Dell sends out different mailings every month, using several agencies in the Frankfurt region - a center of the German advertising agency world - "who are strong in the direct response area."

Mailings and advertising ride on the products themselves. Dell uses all the major German PC publications to push its ware, both with off-the-page ads and with magazine inserts.

Mailings go primarily to Dell's "huge" German buyer database, which is updated regularly as new names come in. Haertner said the database currently contained "several hundred thousand names."

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