Dealer Web sites are becoming more sophisticated.
Sometimes this is good. Web sites often need to be clever to grab shoppers' attention. But in other cases, the sites are so busy, they are difficult to navigate.
As one of the judges in the annual Automotive News Dealer Web Site Contest in February, I discovered that many dealers may be losing customers because their sites are cluttered with flashy graphics.
I viewed the hundreds of participating sites as if I were a consumer. When I am shopping for a vehicle, I have no desire to see a movie. I am using the Internet to save time and money. I want to access the site quickly, browse the inventory and determine if the dealer's prices are reasonable.
I had little patience when an inventory search mechanism stalled or a graphic was slow to appear. If the site was still frozen after 30 seconds, I went to the next dealer site on my list.
Dealers need to remember what they have learned from using other media to communicate with sales prospects: The average consumer has a short attention span and precious little spare time.
In other dot-com news:
InsideOutside Technologies Inc., an Annapolis, Md., provider of online credit processing to financial institutions, and dealerAccess, a joint venture of the CIT Group, Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada, have joined forces to process and manage loans for auto dealers and lenders. The alliance will provide instant credit decisions for dealers and their customers.
Cobalt Group, a Seattle Internet software company, has obtained a $10 million line of revolving credit from Silicon Valley Bank of Santa Clara, Calif.
General Motors' GMBuyPower.com ranks as the No. 1 automaker Web site, according to Gomez Advisors Inc. Gomez is an e-business consulting firm that ranks the Web sites of 6,000 companies in 75 industries.
Staff Reporter Donna Harris can be reached at [email protected] or (540) 668-7295