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A Good Online Model Store
Editorial October 2004

The topic this time is about the places we buy models from.  Sometimes they can be bought directly from the original equipment manufacturers.  Both Liebherr and Terex Demag have their own on line shops.  Many of us buy from independent dealers and in this article we consider what makes a good online dealer.

In a real sense there is no substitute for a local shop where you can go and see a model before you buy it.  However most collectors will not be in that fortunate position and so they have to buy by mail order.  Fortunately the internet provides a much easier shopping experience for the model collector.  So what makes a good online model store?

Up to date

For an online shop to be regarded as good it must be up to date and it should say so with the last update date prominently displayed.  This means that new models should appear quickly and there should be a news page or something similar that is regularly changed.  This makes the site interesting to visit and encourages frequent visits.  News should include new model announcements, advice when a model is obsolete and photos and reports from exhibitions.  The addition of a discussion forum marks out the exceptional dealer website. 

Real time model availability

A major frustration for any collector is wanting something but not being able to have it and this is made worse by placing an order without any advice about when the model will be delivered.  In part this is related to deliveries to the dealer from the model maker.  However best practice is for a dealer's website to give a real time picture of the available stock.  This means if you see a model in stock and you order it, you know you are going to get it.  Some websites do this and this feature is regarded as a must-have for a website to be regarded as good.

Additional information

Bearing in mind that most model collectors are buying without seeing the model 'in the flesh', the good online dealer provides additional information about the model.  In particular additional good quality photos help the collector with their buying decision.  Also advice about whether the model is obsolete should be provided.  A key piece of information which must always be provided is the maker's part number and it is surprising how many dealers sites omit this information.

Good pricing  

Although obvious, this also includes clear advice about shipping costs and they should be economic too.  The good online shop will offer a discount or free shipping for large orders.  Also there should be regular specials to attract the collector.

Large range

This should include accessories and spare parts, and a selection of rare hard-to-get models.  Small pots of paint in the correct colours would enable collectors to apply touch-ups.

Good site design

A good site loads quickly and is easy to navigate.  A full search engine for the website should be provided so that a model can be found quickly.  It should always have an English option if orders are accepted internationally.  Online ordering should be available which is secure and includes shipping costs.  Orders should be confirmed by e-mail and a further e-mail sent when the goods are dispatched.

Cranes Etc