Best PracticesOpinions & Advice

Dealer Websites and Inventory integration

Our three-location dealership family is in the process of switching websites.  After a bit of research, I’ve categorized our web options into three groups:

  1. All-inclusive website/online marketing/CRM tool
  2. Standalone website
  3. Local web design/host service

After considering cost, functionality, relevance, and flexibility, we have decided to pursue a standalone website.  We all use Autobase as our CRM, ADP WebSuite internally, and our IT manager (who is VERY sensitive to Can-Spam requirements) requires Mozilla (and his watchful eye) for our email campaigns.

Out of our standalone site options, we are considering two.  ADP Dynamic Web Premier and Dealerskins.  Two locations (our MB-Volvo-VW store and our Audi-Nissan-Subaru-Toyota-VW store) have decided on ADP and our Dodge store opted for Dealerskins.  Ownership would like to use only one vendor, so we have a dilemma.

As an ADP advocate, here is my argument.  I believe there are three main differences between the two.  Here are two.

1. The look.  In my opinion, ADP offerings are clean, fresh, and plenty flexible for our needs.  With a few small icon changes on the inventory pages, I think ADP would be a homerun for an Import store.  Inventory is represented well, and the media gallery (with int. and ext. spins) is very impressive.  I think Dealerskins sites are naturally too busy.  Both have good navigability, but seeing through the clutter is a bit trying.

2. Calls to action.  Dealerskins uses too many calls to action that require giving up gross.  In a market where most of our OEM lines are exclusive to the area, I don’t believe such a plan is needed.  ADP uses well-placed, relevant calls to action throughout all pages of the site.  I can see the benefit to a Dodge store, but I don’t know if the average Volvo buyer would necessarily respond to a $200 Internet coupon.

Which finally brings me to my question.  I believe that compatibility with our current inventory database is another very important difference. Since we use ADP already, our compatibility with Dynamic Web regarding inventory polling should be seamless.  And I have heard that Dealerskins uses a 3rd party program to link ADP inventory to the site.  I have also heard that ADP considers any non-ADP polling as hostile, and treats it differently.  From what I understand, some manual input is necessary.  Is this true?  Is there a distinct disadvantage to Dealerskins because of this?  With the exception of photos, I would prefer to be hands-off when it comes to inventory updates to our site.


Eric J. Deising
Internet Sales Manager

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  • March 8, 2007
DealerSkins will not have an issue polling the data. ADP API are well documented and there are numerous programs (EZD, Reflection, ViaDuct, etc) out there that can grab the data from ADP with ease. If the data is bad to begin with then manual intervention is required.... but if you enter in the correct information only thing manual you would need to do is upload the images.

My 2 cents on the providers... note I work for a competitor (AutoJini) so it is going to be bias.

I find lot of ADP Dynamic sites to be the same look and feel... which is a good thing and a bad thing. Also under the research / vehicle features/specs sections one has to do lot of clicks to get to the information. This is where one misses one click inventory from AutoJini, DealerOn, and IdealerNetwork. Most of the website providers will use images and 360's from Edmunds or eVox. One can also always go with ADP BZ Results... and if you find that ADP Dynamic is not cutting it for you then move to BZ Results should be really painless... I do love ADP Dynamic clean look and feel and the flow is just very easy and one does not get lost.

You are right... Dealerskin sites are really busy... but I'm sure that they can give you a totally custom implementation. I find that on most sites.. they still use frames... which will not help you in search engines... and one can't seem to be able to turn off the sound... and the 360 are in QuickTime :(... The homepage colors and the effects are exciting and it pops out and visitor won't forget it. But I would say that the sub page navigation and distractions are too much for avg import buyer.

-- Farooq

I think you have a great grasp of what is most important to each dealership. I redid my previous dealers' website from Izmo to Dealerskins for a couple of reasons, the primary one to show off our dealership and add "flash" to the buyer. The design process was quick and realtively painless. Perhaps the best reasaons (for me) was tech support- it was prompt, and the reporting tools in the back end which helped me determine how best to structure and place my monthly specials.

Basically, I would ask each store why they think ADP/Dealerskins is the way they should go, and if it boils down to "sex appeal" then the decision is easy, but if it is more substantive, it is a tougher call. Me personally, I would go with Dealerskins in a hearbeat.

I had few issues with inventory update- I would change pricing occasionally on old-age units and only a couple of times had issues with sold units still posting, which was more an R&R issue than anything else.

Bottom line- I got great results, quick turn-around and thorought follow up during the design process and when I needed tech support. I don't think you will make a bad decision either way.

Good luck
Gerald Hand
Toyota of Irving

You may want to go the route that we did at my previous company. We had one vendor for the website and one vendor for the inventory. So for Boucher (my previous employer), we had Cobalt for our websites and CarSpot (my new employer) for the inventory display and management. The main reason that we chose not to use Cobalt to display our inventory, was that CarSpot gave us the flexibility to make the inventory display templates "look" the way that we liked and fit our needs. I should add that our choice was very easy, as we already were using CarSpot to manage our online inventory.

You can check out the site that I'm referring to, at:
All 18 dealerships use Cobalt for their websites and frame in CarSpot's inventory display templates (to the customer, the integration looks seamless.)

Also, you may want to look at CarSpot's Solo, as it sounds like it would match your needs very well. It's the only camera on the market that has a VIN barcode scanner built in. With the CarSpot Solo, you can scan the VIN and take as many pictures as you want; go to the next car and repeat. Once you're done with all the cars that you want to shoot, you hook the camera up to a computer and it syncs the pictures with the information that is polled from your ADP system (or pretty much any other DMS system).

You can check out the CarSpot Solo device & the rest of CarSpot's suite of Live Inventory Solutions at:

I hope this was helpful and wasn't too much of a shameless plug. The moral of the story is that you don't have to use the same vendor for the website as your inventory display. There is more cost using 2 vendors, but you can get closer to where you want without going custom (much more expensive).

-JoE Drosen
National Sales Director, CarSpot

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    Dan G
  • September 11, 2007
When looking for a web site provider, you have to be proactive and do a little bit of research yourself. What I mean is, you need educate yourself on the technology you are buying.

As far as Dealerskins goes.. They rely way to much on frames and flash technology..both of which can hurt you when it comes to search engines. (As far as inventory pulling...they do a fine job though...well except if you are using EDS) They just don't seem to be keeping with the times as far as proper web design / development trends are concerned (for example...Web Standards, CSS, RSS feed marketing, Accessibility, SEO...the list goes on)

Their sites were cutting edge a few years ago.. but most web surfers (your customers) have grown tired of all the flash and glam. They want good, clean design that loads quickly so they can find the info they are looking for fast.

Do some research. And don't just speak with web developers who's primary focus is car dealerships. You may not want to go with them..but they can provide valuable insight into what some of these web design companies are telling you. Go to Borders and visit their web design section. Surf the Internet. And do all this before you sign on the dotted line!