A new Web

As the marine industry raises the bar for itself online, companies are constantly upgrading and redesigning their Web sites. In this section Boating Industry’s editors review these sites, point out things the industry can learn from and outline areas for potential improvement. If you’d like your site to be considered for a review, send an e-mail to lwalz@affinitygroup.com.

Robertson's Marine

Strengths: All boat and engine inventory is posted online with dedicated pages for each product. Customers can also use the site to schedule appointments, order products, fill out credit applications and more.

Areas for improvement: New boat photos could be tweaked for better impact.

Summary: At Robertson’s Marine, a single-location dealership in Salt Lake City, the company’s address and phone number are displayed at the top of every page. It’s a small touch, but one of many customer-friendly features that make the dealership’s Web site, redesigned earlier this year, a pleasure to use.

The dealership displays all of its boat and engine inventory, both new and used models, on its Web site. A simple, yet powerful search function is one of the site’s highlights and makes perusing the products easy. Potential customers can search by boat type, model year, brand, model name, length or price, or combine those criteria for an even more specific search.

Each boat or engine has its own dedicated page, listing specs, features, options, comments and an image gallery with several photos – a necessity for customers shopping online.

Customers who have not yet decided on a specific type of boat can browse the inventory in a more general way, viewing pages that display the model, length and a thumbnail photo for several boats at once.

However, when customers click on those thumbnails, they are taken to the information page, which has all of the details listed above, but only another slightly larger thumbnail of the boat in question. Usually, clicking on a thumbnail brings up a much larger version of the same photo. To create that “wow” factor for potential buyers, it might be a good idea to add a photo like that at the top of the information page.

Another suggestion for improvement would be to add at least one photo of the actual boat being sold. Robertson’s offers customers a slideshow of the model they’ve clicked on, but for many of the new boats, the photos are manufacturer-provided, on-the-water shots rather than pictures of the specific boat the customer will buy. Taking at least one photo of the boat at the dealership might create more of a sense of urgency for buyers to pay the dealership a visit and see it for themselves.

Other valuable services offered on Robertson’s site include: service scheduling; parts ordering; boat and engine trade-in evaluation forms; credit applications and a payment calculator.
Robertson’s makes doing business online easy, and will likely enjoy more revenue as a result.

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