Creative merchandising of inventory improves sale chances
We’re well into the first quarter, but it’s never too late to tweak our annual goals. At the very least we all can use a reminder of the basics that got us to where we are today.
Think back to your first days in the car business. You were constantly reminded not to cut corners in your dealership’s sales process. You were drilled on the five to seven steps that need to occur with every customer to give yourself the greatest chance of selling a car. Sometimes we were amazed to witness the quick success of new salespeople, while old timers struggled. But when we thought about it, the answer was simple. They didn’t use shortcuts, instead, they followed the same proven steps with each customer every time and it worked.
Well, the same holds true with online sales efforts. More than 80% of customers use the Internet to shop and last year more than 60% actually found the car they purchased online first, rather than on a dealer’s lot. Because that is the case, this is a good time to review what the most successful dealers do to present inventory in a way that increases the chance for a sale.
1. Minimize, simplify vehicle capture and updating time
Employ an upload process and make it a standard operating procedure for your dealership. There are tools that make it easy to edit vehicle data as well as integrate with your DMS polling to ensure accuracy.
2. Minimize time to market
Upload vehicles prior to reconditioning so they’re immediately visible. Days that are wasted waiting for cars to be frontline ready before posting them online equate to lost sales.
3. Maximize distribution
You must have your inventory posted on the most visited sites used by online shoppers, your local sites, niche, second tier and classified sites. Select a solution that allows easy distribution to all of these types of sites, including eBay and Craigslist.
4. Maximize content
There’s no such thing as too much information. Each listing should have accurate vehicle data on standard and optional features cross referenced against Kelley Blue Book, Chrome and Polk. Also, dealers should provide access to vehicle history reports, designation as a “one owner” vehicle when confirmed, personalized seller’s notes to accentuate the positive and suggest mental ownership, a pricing comparison between suggested retail and your selling price to show savings to the consumer. If there is one small thing that will make a difference, it is making sure you have great, customized seller’s notes on each vehicle to strike a nerve with any customer’s hot buttons.
5. Price competitively
Although price is not the end all to most purchase decisions, customers are well informed and have access to a lot of competitive data immediately available. To maximize turn times and hold gross price, your vehicle must be competitive to others in the market right from the outset. There are several great tools available providing you a quick snapshot or detailed information on similar vehicles currently available, such as, CDMdata’s Market Pricing.
6. Display the right quantity of high-quality photos
How many is enough? Customers tell us that 16 to 36 photos allow them enough visual information, raising comfort levels, eliminating less desirable or poorly advertised vehicles from consideration and making them more likely to move to one particular vehicle or dealer’s direction.
7. Reinforce consumer trust with branded window stickers
Customized window stickers for CPO vehicles from your dealership or Kelley Blue Book provide a level of professionalism and instills confidence in customers.
The first thing to do is shore up the dealership’s marketing foundation with these helpful hints, and then use other creative ideas to catch the eye of the discriminating online shopper to sell more cars.