Dell and its value chain:
As of July 2002, Dell Computer Corporation (Dell) was the world’s largest direct selling computer company, with 34,800 employees in more than 30 countries and customers in more than 170 countries. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Dell had gained a reputation as one of the world’s most preferred computer systems companies and a premier provider of products and services that customers worldwide needed to build their information-technology and Internet infrastructures. Dell’s climb to market leadership was the result of a persistent focus on delivering the best possible customer experience. Direct selling, from manufacturer to consumer, was a key component of its strategy (The Wall Street Journal, 2002, E6).
The company was based on a simple concept: that Dell could best understand consumer needs and efficiently provide the most effective computing solutions to meet those needs by selling computer systems directly to customers. This direct business model eliminated retailers, who added unnecessary time and cost, and also allowed the company to build every system to order, offering customers powerful, richly configured systems at competitive prices. Dell introduced the latest relevant technology much more quickly than companies with slow-moving, indirect distribution channels, turning over inventory an average of every four days. In less than two decades, Dell became the number-one retailer of personal computers, outselling IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Compaq (The Wall Street Journal, 2002, E6).
The traditional value chain in the personal computer industry was characterized as “build-to-stock.” Computer manufacturers, such as IBM, Compaq, and Hewlett-Packard, designed and built their products with preconfigured options based on market forecasts. Products were first stored in company warehouses and later dispatched to resellers, retailers, and other intermediaries who typically added a 20–30 percent markup before selling to their...