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Since 1958, Autoweek magazine has been providing news worldwide for an audience enthused about cars and racing. More than fifty years later, the people behind the by-lines we have come to know and admire are putting their expertise into the publication’s latest project – shopautoweek.com, a website strictly for consumers that is ‘powered by unbiased insight, opinion and expertise of Autoweek editors.’
Some might say find it risky for the world’s leading automotive enthusiast publication to put its efforts into a website not dedicated to that audience. Others would consider the move pretty savvy, and according to the magazine’s editor, Wes Raynal, the new site – launched in November 2011 – is off to a strong start with car-buyers.
I had the opportunity to chat with some of my favorite car guys about Autoweek’s new adventure aimed at helping consumers shop for their next new or used vehicle. Editor Wes Raynal, digital editor Andy Stoy, and social media manager, Hadi Kadri, all recently shared with me what sets shopautoweek.com apart from the competition.
An idea is born
The magazine’s publisher, K.C. Crain, is at least partially deserving of credit for shopautoweek.com. Stoy shared that K.C. was having a conversation with his wife about buying a car, and her frustrations in the process sparked an idea. Why not use the talent and knowledge of the people inside Autoweek to educate and make the process less daunting for others?
The magazine intends for its new site to not be so much from an enthusiast’s perspective but rather focus on sharing those nuggets of wisdom that car guys and gals often tell their neighbors.
Helping shoppers decide
Stats and data envelop those searching online for information about new cars, and that can be daunting for both novice car shoppers and old pros. Understanding that ultimately the customer has to experience a car in person, the editors at shopautoweek.com want to humanize the online research process by providing real feedback from real bodies.
“There’s just tons of data out there – there’s more specs than you can possibly use in your life,” said Stoy about the online research process. “There’s nobody [online] helping shoppers decide what car really makes sense for them.”
You might be surprised to learn that the shopautoweek.com following is predominately not auto enthusiasts. Stoy explained that one of the challenges for he and the site’s writers “is remembering how to talk to people who aren’t reading all the car blogs and magazines.” He added, “We’ve had to translate [our personal] knowledge into useful consumer advice.”
One core aspect of the site for its editors is not being a shopping site but existing as a decision site. “The competitors throw all of this information at you but nothing at the end of the process,” said Stoy.
“You leave [shopautoweek.com] with a core group of two to three vehicles, and then you can go check out the intangibles. It’s not just for shopping but really coming away with a decision.”
-Andy Stoy, Digital Editor, shopautoweek.com
Expert car advice-givers help you shop
Visit shopautoweek.com and you will not only get great information on individual vehicles, but you will also hear from people who know first-hand about those vehicles. The site’s “Never Shop Alone” section features editors and contributors who are experts about various topics from the dealership experience to leases and trade-ins.
The Notbeook feature keeps it social
When in the market for a new or used vehicle, we ask our friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations in person. Why not do the same via social media? Shopautoweek.com understands car buyers’ need for feedback from friends and family. That’s why they created the Notebook feature and integrated it as a core component of the site. I talked to Autoweek’s new media director, Hadi Kadri, about this unique feature.
“The Notebook is something I’ve never seen in car shopping before,” said Kadri. “[It is] a place to aggregate everything you’re doing in the car shopping experience.”
Shopautoweek.com wants to provide car buyers a place to store every bit of research they are doing online. The site does not limit information stored within the Notebook to material found only By utilizing the ‘My Notebook’ feature, users can store and view articles, photos, and other research they have found elsewhere on the web. “You can literally email photos to your Notebook from the car dealership,” said Kadri.
The Notebook is a completely mobile, socially integrated tool for anyone searching for a new or used vehicle. “Shopping is such a social experience today,” said Kadri. “[With the Notebook,] I can take the three cars that I’m looking at and do a comparison, then share that comparison with my friends on Facebook and Twitter.”
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