January 22, 2009, 12:00 AM

HP segments its site to meet the needs of distinct customer types

The HP Home and Office Store web site serves tens of millions of customers, from big corporations to individual consumers. HP divides the site into sections that address specific customer types, vice president Mike Ritter said at Web Design ’09.

When a company’s customer base encompasses 50 million U.S. households and its web site takes 10,000 orders a day, it’s not surprising that the site must meet the needs of many types of customers. The HP Home and Home Office Store site of Hewlett-Packard Company has divided its site into sections in an effort to fulfill its various missions, vice president Mike Ritter told the Internet Retailer Web Design ’09 Conference yesterday in Miami Beach, FL.

Ritter, part of the HP Direct Store unit that handles the company’s direct-to-consumer sales in the U.S., described two types of conflicts that the web team must address. The first is the conflict between being a comprehensive catalog of HP’s wide variety of products while at the same time being a store that meets customers’ needs.

“We have a plethora of products,” Ritter said. To showcase all of them, the site must be a comprehensive catalog. At the same time, he said, “From a store standpoint, customers don’t want to be inundated with everything in our product catalog.”

HP addressed that conflict by creating subcategories, such as notebook computers, and search filters so consumers can quickly find notebooks that are good for games and entertainment, for instance, versus those suited for customers who will be working as they travel.

The second conflict, he said, is between customers who want customized products, such as computers with particular configurations, versus those who want to quickly buy off-the-shelf products, such as toner for printers. He said the retailer created a section of the site called the HP Express Store that offers all the ready-to-buy items that customers can quickly purchase without working through a multistep configuration process.

Ritter spoke at a session entitled “One site, many masters: Accommodating conflicting design objectives,” with Tony Svanascini, president of AmericanEagle.com, which develops and hosts web sites. Svanascini gave several examples of his retailer clients who have designed their sites to serve distinct groups of customers.

For instance, his company designed the web sites of the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears of the National Football League, in each case creating a content site with information on the team and a separate web store that sells team merchandise. When the Eagles content site features a story about quarterback Donovan McNabb, the site pops up a box that promotes a McNabb jersey and gives the consumer the option to buy it immediately from the Eagles online store. “We integrate everything so we’re making both parties within the organization happy, the store owner and the web site owner,” Svanascini says. “And we’re producing more revenue.”

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