Web-only sales for Oracle

Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison has said that his company is shooting for a 100 per cent online sales model by the end of this year.

"We're going to be the 'e-businessest' of e-businesses," Ellison claimed at Oracle's iDevelop conference in California. "In one year, the only way you'll be able to order software from Oracle is through our Web store."

Although moving to a completely Web-based sales model may seem a bit extreme at first, it could be a natural progression for many users.

"It's an interesting concept, and I think initially people will be surprised, shocked, if not irate," said Oracle user Michael Abbey, vice president of conferences for the Oracle User Group, in Ottawa. "But once those customers realise that they're on the Internet already, they'll be quite happy."

According to Ellison, only 10 per cent of the company's business is currently conducted online. If Oracle is able to turn that into 100 per cent, Ellison said he believes the company could cut half a billion dollars off its operating expenses -- money that could be redirected to research and development (R&D) and face-to-face sales.

The Web will streamline sales, company officials said.

"It takes a lot of physical, labor-intensive support to make sales and R&D happen," said Ray Lane, president and chief operating officer of Oracle. "This stuff can be done on the Web, allowing us to spend more on selling and developing, and dropping a lot to the bottom line."

Although it may seem contradictory to increase the sales force while moving to a completely Web-based sales model, Oracle's proposed shift includes increased sales support. The main difference will be that the salesperson or customer placing the order will place it over the Internet, according to Oracle.

"It makes total sense for a vendor to do that if their customer base is ready," Abbey said. "For one thing, it provides a much better internal auditing trail for the customer."

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