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Ask HN: Why do most car dealership websites look like 1990s
2 points by codegeek 1779 days ago | hide | past | web | 8 comments | favorite
I am in the process of buying a new car right now and been going through a lot of dealer websites. Most of them are poorly designed, really bad UI/UX, ability to search car models suck etc. For example, there is no way to search only for a specific model with Navigation. Yes, I can try the keyword search by putting "nav" or "navigation" but that sucks too because there is no structure.

Is this a problem that is not worth solving ? Do dealers not really care about their online presence even in 2012 ?

It's because there are only a few DMS (dealer management system) providers that most dealers sign up and stick with. They manage not only their web site, but a lot of back-end systems as well. These systems, like you pointed out, don't do a very good job with the web site, but that's only a small part of what they offer as a package.

Since most dealers aren't very technical, they just stick with what they get and leave it to the so-called "professionals" to handle the web site.

There's always room for disruption, but it's going to be more difficult than simply calling up dealers and telling them you can create a better web site.

BTW, since you're looking at buying a new car, check out my site: http://www.realcartips.com

Quite a few years ago I was hired to create a DMS for a used car dealership - they gave up the contract half way though to use an existing piece of software. So it's also that car dealerships are cheap, they really think any presence is good enough.

Thanks. Your blog looks pretty good.


I think new car dealers overall are not highly focused on selling cars online. The car they have for sale can be bought from another dealer that in most metro areas is no more than an hour away. The industry, not without cause, thinks people shopping online are highly focused on getting the best price and have more information. The dealer WANTS you to come into their store instead of shopping online.

Also, a new car? Consider buying something that's a few years old the cost savings are huge.

It is probably very similar to how a lot of local restaurants don't have a great website. They simply don't need to put down the money for a great website because that's not how their business primarily operates.

In the U.S., Autotrader is a better option than hitting dealer websites one by one. It has good search features, many dealers post their inventory, and you can cross shop.

Autotrader.com and Cars.com are the two biggest players, and yes, most dealerships use at least one to list their inventory. However, many car shoppers do search individual dealer's web sites for inventory and find that it sucks.

In addition, I've found many cases where the latest inventory is not listed on Autotrader or Cars.com (and even on the dealer's own site). The only way to know for sure what the dealer has on the lot is to actually visit them in person or contact them via phone or email so they can check their internal system.

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