Page 3: Direct marketing and selling
Businesses can expand their potential market and the services they offer by using the Internet to contact customers daily.
HMV, the number one specialist music retailer in the UK and a company that has traditionally been quick to adapt to changes in the market place, wanted to move beyond traditional retailing methods and take advantage of the global opportunities e-commerce can offer. The company was also keen that this new online plan was not isolated from its overall business strategy, but built on the strength of the high-street brand.
With the assistance of the Microsoft partner iXL and using Microsoft technology, HMV has developed a website specifically designed with the firm’s business requirements in mind. Once the decision had been taken, it took just three months before the first Internet purchase was made. Demand has already exceeded HMV’s expectations - the market continues to grow and HMV has plans to expand the site to reach a worldwide audience.
When the Carphone Warehouse, one of the UK’s largest independent mobile phone retailers, wanted to develop a sophisticated website to take advantage of e-commerce opportunities, it selected a Microsoft partner - the online business development consultancy, Clarity. The site had to reflect not only the changing nature of the mobile phone market and its customers, but also provide detailed information.
Clarity built a site capable of processing data entered by the customer using Microsoft software to work out the best choice from the four mobile phone networks, 21 tariffs and the 46 handsets available. It proved to be a highly efficient way of targeting millions of potential customers without the overheads of traditional sales channels.
Dixons, the electrical retailer with 890 high street stores first became aware of the potential of Internet selling in America. At the beginning of 1997, it joined forces with another Microsoft partner, Interactive Developments, to add e-commerce to its existing web site.
Within six months it launched one of the most advanced e-commerce websites in the country, offering 2,000 products for next day delivery anywhere in the UK. Modern shopping habits are changing rapidly, with late-night and 24-hour shopping becoming an accepted part of today’s lifestyle.
Dixons wanted to create a shopping experience as close as possible to walking into a high street store. The website has proved to be an enormous success, receiving 160,000 visitors and is now offering exclusive discounts to Internet shoppers.