UK-based Value Direct sells top-brand electrical goods at discount prices to companies that meet certain requirements.
On visiting the site you will be presented with a vast range of televisions, hi-fis, washing machines and microwaves ? in fact, virtually any type of household appliance you can think of. Delivery is free to addresses in mainland UK and takes between five and 21 days.
The site isn?t particularly flash. Shockwave technology and animated graphics are kept to a minimum, speeding up the process of browsing and ordering. In comparison, the recently launched Dixons Online is graphics heavy and extremely slow. What is important is that the Value Direct site does its job well. It?s easy to navigate, and locating specific products is quick and simple.
Once you enter the site you can choose the product type you?re interested in or check out the special offers which are changed regularly. Simply browsing through the special offers gives you a good idea of what?s available ? and may even tempt you to buy that microwave at a price that?s simply too good to miss.
Technical information on the products is provided, giving you further help to make an informed choice from your desktop. To order a product you email a completed order form and then either give your credit card details over the phone or send a cheque by post.
On entering a product category you are presented with an extensive choice, and this represents only a fraction of the total goods available. If the appliance you want isn?t listed you can call up the complete directory of available products or email your request.
For example, request Value Direct?s full TV range and the site will return page after page of every type of TV imaginable.
There is also a list of all the manufacturers which supply products via Value Direct. This also includes hot-links to the manufacturers? own sites where you can find further information.
Discount prices direct from your desktop
The Value Direct Web site went live in September 1996. Managing director Ian Bland says the aim was to provide an informative rather than an entertaining site. ?Fridges are not the most exciting thing in the world, so rather than try to entertain visitors with fancy graphics we decided to give them comprehensive information,? he says.
Value Direct works by targeting specific companies and organisations, looking for the businesses which will benefit most from its service. At the moment, about 20 companies use the service.
A number of factors have to taken into account before a company can do business with Value Direct. Bland says it looks at the size of the company and whether it has an effective means of communicating with its staff, such as a company intranet, to ensure staff are kept informed of Value Direct?s existence.
Value Direct?s site has been so successful that the company has decided to launch a separate site with public access for general consumers.
Bland is not worried about competition from high street retailers such as Dixons which recently launched an online store. He says Dixons offers only a limited range with a heavy emphasis on promoting its own brand. ?At Value Direct we offer a complete service and an objective one,? says Bland.
In response to customer feedback the existing site is being revised. Along with the introduction of an online payment facility, the site is being restructured to make it easier to manage. For example, products will additionally be listed under their manufacturers giving customers yet another way of searching for goods.
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