In just a few short years, competition for online new and used car sales has become intensely fierce, with a large number of nationwide chains entering the market and local dealerships expanding their reach from coast to coast. Suddenly, your online inventory pages have probably gone from a good way to get customers to pick up the phone and call you to being where most of your transactions are handled. Simply put, if your online merchandising is not world-class, you are going to struggle to sell autos no matter how good your prices and service are.
Here are the top 10 things you can do to improve your new and used car inventory merchandising:
Never list a car without a photo
No matter how detailed your written description is, buyers are not going to consider your listing unless it has photos. Lacking a photo, your listing either has a stock image or a “photo coming soon” placeholder, both of which prompt shoppers to keep on scrolling. See too many of those on the first page, and the chances of them closing you out skyrocket. Your vehicle could be one of the best for sale on the market, but if customers can’t see it, they won’t consider it.
Focus on quality images for your listings
If photos sell your car, it makes sense to make those photos good. You wouldn’t sell a million-dollar house with pictures taken on an old flip phone, would you? And you wouldn’t post a photo to your dating website if the lighting made you look sick, right? Treat your vehicle photos the same way. Get a good photographer, insist that the lighting is right, get the vehicle as clean as you can get it, and upload as many images as you can. Take a cue from the nationwide online car sellers who attach dozens of images of each car, truck, or SUV they sell to their listings. No buyer ever complained about having to see too many photos of the car they are interested in before they made the purchase decision.
Focus on same-day listing turnaround
It’s hard to sell something you don’t have listed, and every day your new intakes sit on the lot without a listing is a day of potential sales you’ve lost. Same-day listing turnaround should be a standard at every lot.
Equip your car dealerships with tools that speed up your merchandising process such as Pixel Guru.
Optimize your listings for Google organic search results
You have already optimized your website content for search engine results, right? You should be doing the same for each vehicle entry. Here are simple steps to follow:
- Make sure every vehicle in your inventory has its own page and unique URL
- Optimize your vehicle landing pages around the most common search items: year, make model, and geographic area you cover
- Create used vehicle search pages optimized for terms like “used,” “new,” and “pre-owned,” since those pages are permanent
- Blog about your inventory — not necessarily on individual vehicles, but on important keywords you can link to your inventory
Merchandise your inventory using Google AdWords
Google AdWords can be an incredible tool for selling used and new vehicles, and while it may sound complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Create ads and campaigns for every vehicle in your inventory, especially for used vehicles.
Warning: If you’re about to send some users down to your pre-owned inventory, make sure to offer a decent choice to your future customers.
As we all know, pre-owned vehicles are all different: options, mileage, price, color, condition. Odds are actually against you and
Spending $250/month to bring new traffic to a page with a single Ford F-150 in stock can drain up your budget and yield very poor results.
Stock the right vehicles
This sounds like a no-brainer, but we’ve seen too many dealers stock vehicles out of convenience, profit, or interest, not based on what the customer wants right now. Success for today’s dealerships is all about stocking the right cars, and a data-driven approach to sales can help you determine exactly what buyers want, down to the model, year, mileage, and options. Don’t buy the cars you sold last month — pay attention to the specifics, like trim level or colors, as well as what season you are in.
Buy at the right price
The key to successful sales is selling the vehicle at the right price, and you can’t do that if you paid too much. A sound cost-to-market appraisal before you buy a vehicle can help you secure trade-ins at the best ratio for your dealership. Sourcing dependable appraisal tools will help you get the right vehicle at the right price, so you can effectively market it both locally and nationwide.
Price your vehicles with greater transparency
Vehicle pricing transparency is increasingly becoming a key motivator for purchasers, with online search activity yielding more clues than ever about vehicle costs. Dealers who put in place transparent pricing strategies will draw more customers and better opportunities for sales, due in part to trust, which is a major factor, especially as customers move up the pricing ladder. Every day customers have access to powerful pricing research tools, and if your competitors are supplying more information than you are about their pricing, you are in danger of losing sales. Customers come to dealerships armed with pricing information and know perfectly well when a vehicle is overpriced.
Avoid errors at all costs
Having a secure inventory management system in place can help you avoid mistakes when you are buying, selling, and marketing. Good appraisals will reduce the chances that you overpay, while inventory checklists ensure that listings are accurate and detailed. An experienced inventory manager can play a critical role here
Use social media
Social media lets you identify consumers and their specific interests, and the platforms allow you to connect directly to the consumers who are most likely to buy. Use this to your advantage: connect with consumers on a personal level and showcase your stock.
Today’s world of vehicle merchandising is complicated, but there are amazing opportunities for dealers who stay up to date on industry tools and social selling techniques. Those who adapt to these new challenges first will be the best positioned to turn new and used inventory faster.