Mr. Vena cites two measures of success. Alienware's Web site gets 400,000 to 500,000 visitors a day. And the company earns average sales of 60 to 70 cents per e-mail, four times better than the usual 15 cents per e-mail for online marketers.
Up the Growth Curve
Many of the top e-commerce companies say they are now overhauling their e-business operations to make them still bigger contributors to sales.
For example, Office Solutions Business Products and Services Inc., based in Yorba Linda, California, wants to increase the percentage of the company's sales that come via the Internet (around 25 percent in 2004 and 30 percent in 2005, according to the company) to 80 percent within the coming 18 months. Currently, Office Solutions generates about 30 percent of its sales via telephone and 30 percent via fax. Convincing more customers to order online will cut costs and increase efficiency, says CEO Robert Mairena.
To handle the growing number of online customers it intends to attract, Office Solutions is converting its e-commerce site to an SAP CRM system that will analyze customer purchasing patterns. For example: A customer buys a Hewlett-Packard printer and print cartridges but not paper. The customer might then receive an e-mail promoting a special offer for paper. Office Solutions also plans to offer more special online promotions and incentives such as rebates and discounts. "Customers will get the deals only if they do business online, and they will be aware of them only if they do business online," says Mr. Mairena.
Holman's Inc., an Albuquerque-based supplier of survey and engineering equipment and technology, is also stepping up efforts to attract more online customers.
As of 2004, e-commerce sales accounted for about 50 percent of the company's revenue. To date, Holman's has attracted customers through direct mail and advertisements in trade publications, and hired a consultant to work with Google to improve the company's rankings in search results.
But Holman's will begin this summer offering more incentives to encourage greater numbers of customers to do business on its Web site. The incentives will include free shipping, faster service, promotional items, and discounts.
Holman's also plans to improve its Web site to make it even easier to use. To solicit suggestions for improvements, the company is expanding its customer focus groups to include small businesses with 5 to 10 employees. "The easier the Web site is to use to procure products, the more we will see an increase in business volume," says CEO A. T. Trujillo.
Both Bricks and Clicks
Hispanic brick-and-mortar sales and service companies have been at the forefront in adopting the Internet as a sales and marketing tool.
In the auto industry, for example, Tucson, Arizona-based All Star Auto Exchange LLC earned 70 percent of its $5.7 million in 2004 sales via the Internet. The independent auto dealer's Web site is a virtual showroom that encourages visitors to apply for credit online. All Star's Web site accounts for about 20 percent of its Web driven sales – and leads purchased from Internet companies such as AutoTrader.com and Car.com account for the remaining 80 percent. The leads cost $20 to $25 each.
The cost of leads is a big reason for All Star's decision to increase the number of leads generated from its own Web site. The company buys 10- or 15-second television and radio spots asking customers to visit its Web site. Some advertisements urge consumers to "shop in your pajamas." All Star also buys banners on a University of Arizona Web site for sports fans.
Unlike many e-marketers, All Star doesn't send out e-mail blasts. "I think they are abrasive. I send information when people request it – and thank-you letters," says CEO Edmund Marquez.
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