Cherry Hill Motors, of Cherry Hill, N.J., gets the trophy for having the best overall dealer site in the First Annual Best Dealership Web Site competition sponsored by Automotive News and Ziff-Davis, a publisher specializing in the Internet and technology issues.
The well-organized site, www.chmb.com, uses uncluttered graphics, a logical format and clearly written text to appeal to its Mercedes-Benz customers.
The focus is on education, not entertainment.
The site is unusual in its respect of visitors' time and privacy. Even the greeting on the home page reinforces that courtesy, with: 'Thank you for visiting the Cherry Hill Motors Mercedes-Benz Web site. Your time is valuable, and we're glad you have chosen to spend it with us! Welcome, and enjoy your stay.'
The site honors consumers' privacy. The dealership offers customers an online price quote, but - unlike other sites that offer the same sort of service - Cherry Hill requires visitors to enter only their names and e-mail addresses. Phone numbers and street addresses are optional.
Cherry Hill piggybacks on the technology of the Mercedes-Benz corporate Web site. Visitors who click on 'new models' in the table of contents on the dealership's home page automatically land in the corporate site for product details. The seamless link to the factory site allows the dealership to capitalize on the factory site's advanced technology and cut down on its own site development costs.
In addition to that link, several features make Cherry Hill's site easy to navigate and informative:
Used-vehicle locator service. A composite list shows the year, model, color and price of each vehicle. Customers can click on an icon for more information, including a photo, mileage, vehicle identification number, stock number and equipment. The customer can enlarge the photo or provide name, phone and e-mail to make contact with the dealership.
Online request for service and/or parts. The site includes an online brochure outlining the benefits of Cherry Hill's service and parts departments, allowing the customer to e-mail the dealership with his or her service and parts needs. The dealership offers pickup and delivery service, so the customer could handle the entire request online.
Accessories boutique. Prospects can view an online catalog of accessories, including photos, brief descriptions and prices.
Map. This feature includes a map that can be enlarged, directions to the dealership, hours of operation and the chance to e-mail the dealership for more information.