CLEMMONS, N.C — SeeDealerCost.com, a consumer research site that has attracted the marine industry’s attention by promising to reveal dealer invoice pricing, launched earlier today. It covers boats, engines, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, PWCs, and soon RVs.
Dave Taylor, a former marine industry executive who now works for See Dealer Cost, says in addition to its main location, there are about 600-650 URLs that feed the site. He says the site saw a steady flow of visitors before it was even announced, and following some initial media coverage, “traffic exploded.”
“The amount of traffic we were getting a couple of months ago was astounding and there wasn’t anything there,” Taylor said. “So it was just kind of reaffirming that people are out there looking for information. And it’s just not out there.”
The design of the site is intentionally spare, with a simple white background and links to specs, pricing and other info. Taylor says the developers worked to keep things “easy-to-use and intuitive.” The site’s motto, displayed on the top-right of each page, reads “No frills – just the info. Now you have the tools to negotiate your best deal.”
The site, which is free to users, does not sell any products. Instead, Taylor says it will supply “the pertinent information we believe consumers are looking for to make an informed purchase decision.” It will generate revenue through display advertising and a lead subscriptions program.
“It’s not about trying to sell a lifestyle or sell one brand over another,” Taylor said. “That’s the job of industry organizations and manufacturers. This is just about the information gathering and shopping process.”
Although similar sites exist in the auto world, some groups have argued the model is unworkable in the marine industry because of differences of scale and pricing structure.
“You can cite Edmunds.com all day long, but that’s a completely different animal than our industry,” Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, told Boating Industry when the site was announced. “They smack everything possible into that dealer invoice. That’s not really what the dealer is paying.”
Those opposed to the site say it could threaten the industry’s economic recovery by reducing profit margins at a critical time, and when it was first announced in January, several marine manufacturers said they were not planning to work with or provide information to the site.