The website really is a showcase for what is achievable online when firms think outside of the box. Looking like a virtual showroom, it combines flash images, video and fantastic content to entice the user in further.
Among the judges impressed by Fiat.co.uk was Lee Coomber, from CAP. He said: ‘It is a very appealing website. It is aesthetically pleasing and has that attention-grabbing factor.’
Really Good Domains chief Dave Timmis was equally in awe, adding: ‘It epitomises the Fiat brand very well and is an excellent example of a good manufacturer’s website.
‘It uses flash and video content seamlessly. The designers have incorporated lots of detailed, high-resolution images of models, giving the visitor a great picture of what to expect when they see the car in the metal. It’s a fun website.’
The site is currently enjoying huge visitor numbers – so far this year there have been 5m visits of which just under 4.1m were unique users. Some 250,000 unique visits are clocked up every month.
Collecting the Eward for Fiat, UK managing director Andrew Humberstone – pictured above with the editor – told Car Dealer the internet was hugely important to the manufacturer. ‘The site absolutely represents where we want to be and how we want to portray ourselves as a brand,’ said Humberstone. ‘In today’s society the internet is such an important medium for the car industry.
‘We see ourselves as a brand that wants to be at the forefront of the web; we want to be exciting and we want to be aggressive in getting ourselves there.
‘The website will only become more and more important to us and I certainly wouldn’t be investing what we are in the site if I didn’t think it was key to our business.’
Key driving force behind the domain is the group’s IT director Phil Mastris. He works closely with an in-house team and design agency AKQA, who produced the site, to make sure things are constantly evolving.
‘We’ve had fantastic recognition for the site,’ he explained. ‘But we’re not resting on our laurels and are continuously trying to improve it.
‘We worked with AKQA, who we chose after a long period of tendering, to produce the site as they stood out from the rest. They have been able to produce the dream we had of how we wanted to show our cars online.
‘Dealers don’t have the luxury of countless customers walking through their doors these days, so they need to show off their wares online and it’s our job to help them with that.
‘The dealer portal on our website is one of the most popular parts and that’s a great way we can channel business to our network.’
So what was the original idea behind the site? And how did Fiat manage to come up with such a unique experience? ‘Primarily we wanted consumers to be able to change and configure the cars online in a unique way,’ says Mastris.
‘This is the second incarnation of the site, the first guise looked identical but didn’t do everything we wanted it to. However, after a seamless transition around six months ago we can now let customers do what we wanted when configuring their car.
‘The web has changed our lives so radically – consumers who used to only spend £10-15 on the internet are now spending thousands on a new TV and things like that, so the internet is only going to grow and grow.
‘We’re fortunate in the UK to have high broadband users which meant we could produce a site like ours.’
Both Humberstone and Mastris hinted at big plans for the site in the future – and didn’t rule out one-day selling cars directly via the internet.
‘We’ve got big plans for the web in 2009,’ said Humberstone. ‘We still need to be creative, but the internet is at the forefront of our strategy. All I can say is watch this space because next year we’ve got some exciting stuff in the pipeline.’
Our headline sponsor Motors.co.uk say: ‘We like the Fiat.co.uk site because it really feels like you are in a virtual showroom with the cars superbly laid out. We think this also helps put the customer at ease and keeps them interested.’
We’re already planning our Ewards 09 – if you think you should be on the judging panel next year get in touch on (023) 9252 2434 to find out how you can get involved.