Dell claims rise in Internet sales - sort of

UK businesses are taking to ordering their IT equipment over the Internet, but obstacles remain.

That is the indication from Dell, which claims to be doing about 32 percent of its UK business over the Web and is usually credited with being the number one online PC seller. However, Dell admitted that only 22 percent of sales are "pure" Internet transactions with the other sales were initiated by visits to the Dell Web site being followed up by conventional telephone purchases.

"It's usually accounting reasons that stop these being pure Web transactions," said Martyn Lambert, Dell UK marketing director. "Often, buyers need to find a way to raise a purchase order and get authorisation."

Dell will attempt to ease that problem from next month through an alliance with SAP that will use the German enterprise resource planning giant's B2B software to streamline procurement. Dell said that the combination of its Web site and B2B will allow buyers to handle all internal and external logistics from requisition to invoice without leaving their desktop PC.

UK online purchasing of Dell equipment still lags behind the US. Dell claims that about 40 percent of worldwide sales are conducted over the Web.

Dell has recently begun a number of new areas on its site, including the DellNet free Web access service, a refurbished PCs space and an auction for Dell equipment and third-party peripherals.

According to IDC, Dell recently passed old rival Compaq to become the number one seller of desktop PCs in the UK. However, Compaq remains a distance leader in PC servers with about twice the market share of Dell in the UK.

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