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The next automotive e-Commerce revolution: a real photo interface
It occurs to me as I navigate my iPad and latest Android phone that our inventory hosting options, both on dealer websites and third parties like AutoTrader.com and Cars.com are so 1999 - literally. With all the talk of SEO, ROI, VPC, NRA, and LMAO, the way we feed photos to potential buyers is in the dark ages.
Sure, some stores are getting into videos, and there may be a store or two that uses old-school QuickTime 360 degree photos, but when you compare that to flipping across photos or even screens on my phone or iPad, the industry is still hawking buggy whips. Heck, even my SMS TEXT interface on my phone has drop shadows for a bit more visual appeal. Meanwhile inventory and third party photo layouts are flat and dull.
Jump to about 6:30 to watch the potential for interface quality on these smartphones
My friends over at DealerMouth had the right idea using Adobe AIR to create a world-class interface, but the overall premise of their service has been slow to catch on. However, their INTERFACE is every bit as slick as a ‘Droid. Windows Aero interface for the PC was very promising until someone who smoked way too much pot ruined it with Windows 8.
Third party listing apps need work
How about apps for tablets and phones? Autotrader.com doesn’t have an iPad app that I could find, other than a research portal. Cars.com has an OK app for iPad, but the photo interface is merely a slider - nothing spectacular. Both brands have an app for Android. Both are quick and simple, with simple photo sliders. None of the apps seem to have zooming capability. It essentially seems like their web version ported to a simple app with data search abilities. If you want to see some of the potential, check out the ReMax app for iPad - not earth shattering, but a better sales tool.
We should already have sliders, subtle effects (drop shadow anyone), and perhaps some mild animation. Sure, the risk is that someone could get carried away and make it look like a circus, but that level of goofy interface doesn’t have to be provided. PLUS, dealers could differentiate themselves with more than just a color palette change on a cookie-cutter display. And shouldn't there be enough bandwidth and storage space for larger photos by now?
The first vendor or website host to transition to a twenty first century ‘look’ will be heralded as revolutionary, but shouldn’t we be there already?
Interactive Media Manager / Industry Analyst
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Tom has an MBA in Marketing and is an automotive writer and author with more than 15 years experience in virtually every aspect of the retail auto industry. He has been a performance leader in everything from sales and service, to web development and viral marketing.