Part 2: There are some drawbacks...
By Capt. Bill Pike — December 2000
While the amount of detail available to marinized Web surfers is considerable, there are some drawbacks. For instance, the type of marine-related information on the Web offers little real depth and, by nature of its origin, is totally manufacturer-oriented. Also one bit of info continues to be a little hard to find--pricing. Whether the complexity and option-rich nature of the marine realm will ever allow for straightforwardness on this issue is unclear. There's no question that hard-working dealerships that negotiate their own prices with customers enhance the overall experience of boating by providing excellent levels of service. But the inclusion of flat-rate, across-the-board retail pricing on at least some boatbuilders' and product manufacturers' Web sites indicates at least a partial move toward a non-negotiable, nationwide approach that reduces the dealership role in pricing. With its info-dense site, Wellcraft is moving dramatically on this score. Not only does the company openly reveal retail prices for its various models, but it also offers retail prices on all options, from engines to seating upgrades. The frosting on the cake is the calculator function that computes total outfitted cost and the loan calculator that figures out a payment schedule, based on down payment, interest rate, and other information input by the cyber buyer. Sites like this, when combined with printed-guide sites like bucnet.com (an extension of the BUC Used Boat Price Guide, commonly known as the "BUC Books") or nadaguides.com, both of which offer used-boat valuations, make for sellers and buyers who are incredibly informed and empowered when they depart their computers for a dealership or boat show.
In addition to the retail pricing that's becoming increasingly common on manufacturer-generated Web sites, other, more creative goodies are starting to show up as well. Brunswick's mercurymarine.com is a case in point. Not only does the site give Web surfers dealer contact information, product specifications, photos, and other details, it also provides pages of suggestions on how to enjoy the boating lifestyle and a multiplicity of screens containing tips on trailering, boating safety, the Rules of the Road, and all sorts of other useful marine matters. Site visitors can even send e-postcards to friends or download screensavers and desktop patterns with colorful, waterborne themes.
This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.