Every few years since leaving Dell (or being laid off, precisely) I go back to dell.com to see if the behemoth has fixed any of the issues we uncovered 7 years ago, before I was asked (along with 40% of my group) to leave. So let’s go pull up Dell.com and see what’s working and what’s broken.
Today I have a mission: Find the Dell XPS that looks just like a MacBook Air and price it both all three channels that I have access to: consumer, small business, big business. Let’s see just how hard it is to find and price a comparable Dell. Then perhaps a quick look at HP and Lenovo to see how they are doing.
I found it funny that Dell specifically references the MacBook Pro in its promo for the XPS 15. But this is not the laptop we’re looking for.
Let’s find the XPS with the zero-bevelled screen and Air-like look and feel. (Perhaps the Dell that’s better than a Mac… Well, except for Windows, of course. And I’m guessing we’re going to be restricted to WIN 10 for this experiment. Here we go.
Here’s Dell’s XPS lineup. At least they have reduced the number of screen sizes. Dell used to have 12″, 13″, 14″, 15″ and 17″. They seem to have come to their senses.
Today, when you visit Dell.com your biggest decision here is deciding if you’re going to try the HOME or WORK pricing model. I’m happy to report the pricing is the same. But the HOME site offers some incentive coupons to move you on down the purchase path. If you are a Dell Preferred customer (Big Business) you will have a log-in with special “contract” pricing. That’s how Dell keeps the big companies from scooping all the lowest prices and comparing across the board. If you’re a big customer of Dell you can price out your own systems, and get better than published pricing, but Dell wants to know who you are and have an established track record.
FINDING THE XPS 13. This is the droid we are looking for.
And here’ s the straight forward Dell XPS 13 lineup. If you take out the first option (Windows with 4 gigs of ram, really Dell?) the prices are about the same for Dell, HP, and Lenovo for a comparably equipped high-performance laptop. (i5, 8+ gigs of ram, solid state hd)
VERDICT: Dell has done a great job of cleaning up the massive configuration cluster that was Dell.com. They have reduced the number of screen sizes and focused directly (just like Apple) on three main laptop markets. 1. Exotics (hybrids, Surface, iPad-like devices); 2 Air-Like (ultra-thin and stylish); 3. MacBook Pro-Like (high-peformance and higher-priced).
They still have way to many brands. If you can tell me the difference between XPS, Latitude, Vostro, Precision, and Inspiron you’ve obviously worked for Dell at some point in your career.
And while they are still coupon and deal centric, even that is being toned down on Dell.com. Good for them. People don’t buy because today’s “end of year clearance” coupon is better than the “Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Deal,” they buy because they need a laptop and the site either makes it easy to decide and purchase or it doesn’t. Word from my friends still at Dell is the ship has stopped taking on water. And while their numbers are improving they are not out of the woods. If they could carve off two of those brands and distinctively show the value proposition of each of the remaining brands they’d be well on their way to a simple, first-class e-commerce website.
Their two biggest laptop competitors have got a much simpler lineup. And the pricing is relatively close when you even up the performance specs.
LEGO X SERIES THINKPAD
HP’s ELITE SERIES
DELL IS BACK.
While the return of Michael Dell may not have been as revolutionary and visionary as the return Steve Jobs to Apple, the Austin shop is getting the job done. Now they’ve just got a few more simplification steps to achieve the buy-ability of Lenovo or HP. And I believe from the big changes they’ve made already, that Dell.com will get there.