It has been a pleasure for us to work with Mobility Nationwide, a leading supplier of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the UK, over the last few years. We inherited an excellent website following the untimely death of their original web developer, and have until now simply worked to optimise this existing site.
At the end of last year, however, it became clear that the market was becoming more competitive. In response to the downturn in the economy, just about every garage in the UK was looking at wheelchair accessible vehicles as a higher margin product, and there are now a lot of cheap websites pushing metal. As a consequence, we felt that we needed to look at developing the website to put some clear water between the competition and ourselves.
Site optimisation helps ensure your site is close to the top of the search list on Google, which is vital to ensure people find your website. Having already placed the site close to the top of the search rankings, however, we now had the opportunity to look hard at how our site could improve customer service. What we wanted was a simple-to-use site that would help our customers find the vehicle they were looking for.
Improved customer experience
Increased choice of vehicles on the home page: Mobility Nationwide has one of the largest stocks of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the UK – and we need to be able to demonstrate this to visitors on our home page. Given that that space on a home page is limited, we used a Flash animation that runs through the entire stock in groups of four vehicles. Flash gives us a lot of control over how quickly the page displays, as it can load images in the background, but not all devices can show Flash, so we also have a static view for visitors using these devices.
Online sales assistant: We have always offered a competent search engine (a feature which distinguishes us from simple out-of-the-box websites), but many visitors will not use search engines. Our online sales assistant is there to help in these cases. By looking at the current choice of vehicle, the assistant can suggest a range of similar vehicles that might also be of interest.
Back-history retention: This shows on each page the last few vehicles the customer looked at. It is a really simple concept, commonly used on larger sales sites, and allows the customer to quickly compare vehicles they might be interested in (without having to set up those dreadful comparison tables!), and keep these vehicles in sight while they look at the help, finance or contact page if they want to enquire further.
Improved search: The search allows visitors to find vehicles based on price, fuel, mileage, transmission, size and access options. Refinements include intelligent prices – if there are no vehicles available for £3000, the site doesn’t offer prices less than £3000 as a search option; so reducing time wasted searching for things that do not exist! As with the back-history, the search parameters are now retained, so the visitor can easily browse vehicles, and adjust search parameters in-flight.
If the front end sells to customers, it is the back end that assists your sales force, and helps the company itself be more focused and efficient. What this reports to you can help you understand what your customer wants! In many ways this is at least as important as the glossy sales pages…
Popular vehicles: What are people looking at? – Now! This simple feature just keeps a tag on how often each vehicle has been viewed – so you can quickly and easily spot a problem with your stock.
Improved data entry: With more data carried on each vehicle it was important to speed up data entry, so we have a fast model look-up which allows all of the basic information about the vehicle to be entered from a single selection.
Easier photo upload: Introducing a web-based photo-upload to replace the old FTP system. This automatically re-sizes and optimises images for the site, so no more mis-sized images! It also suggests standard image captions – so the site is well optimised for the search engine!
Online archive: A facility continuously monitoring your sales history to see how well (or badly) different vehicles have sold in the past. Are red cars more popular this year? – You should know – you sell them!
We have worked hard to build a device independent site to current HTML standards. We don’t know what is around the corner (will the iPad with its under-powered browser wipe out the laptop?), but we’ve future proofed as well as we can. As long as our visitors use a browser that understands current standards, they can use our site!
There is room for improvement, there always is, but hopefully the new site will offer solid performance for Mobility Nationwide, both the business and its customers!
Visit the Mobility Nationwide website if you need a wheelchair accessible vehicle – or if you would just like to check out our latest commercial site!