The auto industry has shifted to a digital-first world and dealers need to adapt or they will continue to see the compounding effects of margin compression to their bottom line. That was one of the key messages at NADA this year as the industry continues to transform through technology.
Gone are the days when vehicle buyers need to physically see cars on the lot. Rather, what they see about inventory online sets the standard on what they expect from the dealership. Maintaining the right presence online can be the difference between having a customer proceed to do business with a dealership or moving on to a competitor.
Coupled with the fact that the 2018 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study found that shoppers are spending less time overall in market when searching for a car, this puts dealerships in a situation where effective online merchandising can be the deciding factor between consistent sales or going out of business.
Online merchandising for profitable growth does not need to be difficult. In fact, there are easy ways to merchandise inventory online to help a dealership succeed.
For starters, all inventory should be online as quickly as possible so that it can be seen and moved at a more rapid pace. Once a car is purchased at an auction, photos and information about the car need to be accessible online immediately. A benchmark for effective online merchandising is photographing, describing, pricing and listing a vehicle in one day instead of the traditional average of eleven, providing up to ten additional days to advertise the car while minimizing holding costs.
On a related topic, dealers should use real vehicle photos in their listings that have a clean background that won’t distract from the car itself. Real photos are important to online consumer engagement, as multiple photos receive 349% more VDP’s per listing compared to stock photos, according to a recent Cox Automotive study. Using actual photos of the car instead of stock images differentiates the unit and dealership from its competition.
Finally, dealers should provide as many details as possible online to further set themselves apart from the competition. Special incentives, no accidents, one owner, installed options, or new tires could be the one thing that entices a customer to proceed with the purchase and not move on to the competition.
All of these little steps can go a long way in merchandising inventory, improving profit margins and moving more cars. The goal is always to make more money and in the digital world we are living in, where it’s getting harder and harder to get customers’ attention, effective merchandising may be the only way to grab them.
About the Author
Russ Daniels is Senior Manager of Product Marketing for vAuto and HomeNet at Cox Automotive.
Author: Contributing Writer
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