Dell looks to SMEs for growth

Updated: 2011-08-08 10:16

By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)

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Dell looks to SMEs for growth

A shopper in a computer store in Beijing browses under an advertisement touting Dell Computer Corp products. Dell is planning a new strategy in China. [Photo / Bloomberg News] 

RIO DE JANEIRO - The first time I met Carley Roney was at Dell Inc's Women's Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Forum in June. She looked more like a fashion model than an entrepreneur who owns one of the most famous bridal websites in the United States.

Roney started her wedding and bridal website The Knot in 1996. Based on her own wedding planning experience, she found the bridal world at that time was outdated, cluttered and chaotic. With her husband David Liu, they recognized there was a huge opportunity to launch a bridal brand through the Internet.

"Bridal magazines simply hadn't changed in years and weren't in touch with modern brides," said Roney. "However, if we set up a bridal website, not only did we not need hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a new print magazine, we didn't need advertisement dollars to support it."

The Knot's target audience is younger couples, who make up nearly 80 percent of US brides, through its websites and Roney is planning to launch and to help newlyweds with the next two key life stages: nesting and pregnancy.

In 2010, at Dell's first Women's Entrepreneur Network Forum, Roney said she launched her website's Chinese branch -, a multiplatform resource providing Western inspiration and local advice on weddings, relationships and pregnancy for Chinese customers.

"We know that young, aspiring Chinese women are increasingly embracing Western traditions and inspirations. In fact, 80 percent of Chinese couples incorporate Western traditions into their wedding," said Ting-ai Kuei, brand director at

Roney is only one of Dell's many small and medium-sized (SME) customers. According to the US-based IT research company IDC, SMEs - companies with less than 500 employees - currently account for 35 percent of total shipments through personal computer orders in China. That figure is expected to have a 27 percent year-on-year growth rate over the next five years, which makes it one of the fastest growing markets.

There are not very big differences between Chinese and US SMEs, said Xu Zhaoyuan, general manager of Dell's China SME department. "However, China has more than 47 million SMEs, which will be an important growth sector for Dell in the future," he said.

At present, the company's consumer and SMEs sector accounts for more than 40 percent of the company's global revenue. Xu expects the IT server and storage sectors will enter a faster growth period in China and soon exceed other countries.

"SMEs will account for 37 percent of China's total PC market by 2015, so it is the most important growth sector for PC companies," said Kitty Fok, vice-president of the research company IDC Asia-Pacific.

To stir SME sales, Dell will launch around 1,000 "experience" stores by the end of 2012 in China to demonstrate to SMEs how to build their own technology centers or servers.

In addition to experience stores, the US-based company has held several events to promote its presence in the SME market, including The Take Your Own Path Heroes event started in 2009, followed by female entrepreneur-focused DWEN in 2010 and 2011.

According to Steve Felice, Dell's president of global consumer, small and medium business, The World Bank and World Economic Forum both report that female-owned businesses can be the tipping point for a global economic comeback. He also said the company will launch more forums about SMEs in several countries, including China, and hold next year's DWEN in India.