By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Whirlpool has relaunched its five-year-old flagship Web site at www.whirlpool.com.
Whirlpool says the site has better functionality; a cleaner, more contemporary design; and easier navigation.
Among the changes, Whirlpool created an enhanced product selection criteria function that calls up models which most closely match consumers' selected feature sets.
The new site, which was based on extensive market research, also has improved photography that allows consumers to view products from a variety of angles, including close-ups of control panels and images with doors opened and closed.
“This site was designed to further Whirlpool's consumer relationships through the online channel, and arm consumers with appropriate information that fits their needs,” said Dan Cooke, the company's manager of interactive marketing.
Whirlpool studied other sites' best practices, administered surveys, conducted focus groups and user tests, and developed its own real-life consumer scenarios in revamping its Web site, the company said.
In other Whirlpool news, the company said it plans to spend about $320 million over the next four years to increase production of refrigerators, washing machines and ovens in Mexico. Whirlpool currently produces about 2.5 million units there — 35 percent of which are marked for export — and could double that amount by the time the expansion is completed in 2008.
The announcement follows the company's $180 million commitment earlier this year to bolster its North American manufacturing base, with $100 million earmarked for U.S. plants and the balance budgeted for a new refrigeration factory and an expanded laundry facility in Mexico.
The U.S. investment is being used to complete production lines for new counter-depth, side-by-side refrigerators in Arkansas; built-in refrigeration products in Tennessee; new cooking products in Oklahoma; and new dishwasher models in Ohio.
In addition, Whirlpool plans to invest up to $145 million at its Ohio laundry plants over the next three years to ramp up production of its next-generation top-load washers and front-load dryers.
The projects are part of Whirlpool's ongoing effort to “expand its innovation capability and optimize its global operating platform,” the company said.
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