Suzuki – Improving the user experience for its dealers and customers, while streamlining site management
Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) founded The Motorcycle and ATV Division of American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC), Brea, CA, in 1963. ASMC markets motorcycles, ATVs and Scooters via an extensive dealer network throughout 49 states. ASMC's parent company, Suzuki Motor Corporation, based in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a diversified worldwide manufacturer of motorcycles, ATVs, scooters, automobiles and marine engines. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, it has 120 distributors in 191 countries. When Suzuki needed an updated web experience and more control over their content they looked to their agency of record, Questus, who recommended Sitecore.
The purpose of Suzuki’s site is to market their products and drive customers to their local dealers. The dealers are the ones selling the Suzuki products, so it’s important for Suzuki to keep their dealers happy.
Previously, Suzuki was using an aging home-grown CMS to manage their web content. However, the interface wasn’t user friendly and it required a developer to make any changes to the content, which was costly and time-consuming, not to mention error-prone. E-commerce and promotions were also a challenge to manage on the previous site.
For the new site, Suzuki wanted more control over the content, and they needed to allow people other than developers to manage the content. Other must have features included:
- Dealer Locator – a tool to help end users find the dealer nearest them
- Dealer Center - a place for dealers to access all of the latest promotions and participate in dealer-only programs
- Increased video content – to show things like motorcycle walk-arounds and technical interviews about the products
- Localization - Suzuki Canada needed to support both French and English versions of the site based on shared content with ASMC
- Social sharing – adding the ability for people to share what they find on the site helps generate more traffic
Questus has been the digital agency of record with Suzuki for six years. They did Suzuki’s first redesign of their site five years ago in classic ASP, with a homegrown CMS. The technology had become outdated and cumbersome, so Questus & Suzuki were spending an inordinate amount of time with site maintenance – rather than putting out new content.
Questus had never previously done a production Sitecore implementation, although they had evaluated Sitecore as part of a CMS landscape analysis for a previous client, and they were impressed with the features and its ability to scale. They felt that for Suzuki, Sitecore was the best CMS based on the following reasons:
- Having just built a custom CMS, Questus recognized how difficult and wasteful a custom solution can be. There is so much work and maintenance on the infrastructure, and the client doesn’t see the ROI. It comes with a high price tag just to keep it running.
- Questus had conducted their own independent study of various CMS solutions on the market, and Sitecore ranked really well.
- Sitecore provided customization capabilities so that custom code could be developed to fill any potential gaps in functionality from the previous CMS, including the ability to write data export/import applications.
- Sitecore plugged into Questus’ skill set, since Questus has .NET experts on staff already. After a two-day training their developers were ready to go.
- Sitecore is affordable and fit into Suzuki’s budget. That Suzuki Canada could piggyback on ASMC’s investment helped both organizations improve user experience while managing cost.
Questus integrated Sitecore’s CMS into Suzuki’s site, and extended the solution in the following ways:
- Cache Communicator: Questus created a customer communicator to tell the public website what had just gotten published so it cleared it in its cache.
- Caching algorithm: Previously were seeing the app pool for the public site use 50% CPU and sometimes spiking to 75%-90%. Since Questus deployed the caching solution, they rarely see the CPU go above 20%.
- Administrative Tool Suite: A set of pages were developed that integrate directly into the content editor to provide simplified workflow for things such as editing/mapping product accessories, managing dealer accounts and promotional reporting.
According to Will Chamberlin, VP, Technology, Questus, “With Sitecore, we’ve been able to take advantage of the native features like publishing windows and the media library to keep the site fresh and re-use assets. This has resulted in increased productivity across the board, for the developers, the project managers, the content editors and most importantly, the client.”
With the new site now live, Suzuki has gained much more control over their site. There is constantly new information being posted, including promotions and marketing campaigns – which are all managed through the Sitecore interface in a matter of minutes instead of days. The amount of flexibility to do these kinds of things and the fast turnaround of content is a huge step for them. For example, on Suzuki’s Home page there is now a carousal that is managed by the Sitecore editor, and Suzuki’s marketing team can set the order of images/content, how long the timer should go, and more. This was not possible with the previous site.
For Questus, one of the biggest positives that came out of the project was the ability to easily find .NET developers. Previously, with the custom CMS, it took weeks of training and lots of custom coding. Working on a .NET platform makes it easier to add to the team as needed, and helps keep costs down.
Some features of the new site include:
- Autopublish: There is also an “autopublish” feature that Questus built, that allows a select number of branches within the CMS library to automatically publish every night. So if a campaign needs to come down or go up on a certain date or time, then Suzuki knows that is going to happen without fail.
- Geo-targeted campaigns: Suzuki has also been able to Geo-target some of their campaigns using Sitecore. For example, there is one promotion that is targeted to urban markets, with an edgy design including graffiti and urban music. This only appears to site visitors from select urban areas.
- Dealer Locator: Visitors to the site are geo-located so that their zipcode is pre-identified but can also enter their zip code to find a dealer closest to them
Solution special ingredients
- Shopatron integration for online accessories purchase on the US shopping cart and a custom wish list for the Candian versions of the site.
- AJAX leveraged for dealer and site search
- Cake Mail for email management and mailing platform