Just when you thought you finally caught up with competitors, fine-tuned your inventory merchandising to acceptable industry and consumer standards, and confidently prepared for the influx of customer leads, once again the bar has been raised. Consumer shopping habits, information requests and demand for necessary decision-making tools have forced yet another step in the evolution of online merchandising.
The importance and value of comprehensive online inventory marketing is no secret given the statistical proof of high Internet usage among car shoppers. According to Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence data, new-car shoppers plan to spend an average of 27 hours researching and shopping online before purchasing or leasing a vehicle. This means that consumers rely heavily on the Internet, making vehicle and dealership decisions long before dealers have a chance to interact or influence customers.
With this in mind, the first step in influencing customers toward a dealership versus its competitors is to have the most effective, appealing, complete and compelling inventory listings. What used to be required to effectively market inventory now is only the foundation, requiring more information to have an impact on car shoppers. Today, multiple quality photos, personalized seller’s notes, comprehensive equipment listings, video clips, vehicle history reports and multiple points of contact are the bare minimums. There are new tools available providing shoppers with additional decision-influencing information, which wraps around the entire car shopping experience.
Shoppers have been able to compare multiple new or used vehicles, but more recently, car buyers have the ability to cross-compare a specific new vehicle against a used car. An important hole has been filled as Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence data shows that 45% of self-designated new-car shoppers also are open to purchasing a used car. Many new-car shoppers appreciate the idea of substantial savings to drive a fully warranted, comparably equipped used vehicle. It stands to reason that this statistic could be applied in reverse and designated used-car shoppers would consider a new-car purchase once affordability issues were put to rest because of expanded financing options. This new comparison featured on third-party websites allows consumers to feel more confident that various options have been explored, and makes it easier to move forward.
Third-party websites like kbb.com, which outpace both dealer and automaker sites for usage by Internet car shoppers, now prioritize search results provided to shoppers based on the quality of vehicle merchandising and best match vehicle choices to site visitors. This provides tremendous incentive to dealers to provide quality, comprehensive listings to ensure visibility.
Dealers need to consult their vehicle inventory marketing and management provider to confirm these features are available, which enables dealerships to be more top-of-mind among consumers.