How and why traders should do it

It’s no secret that the internet has drastically changed the landscape of researching, buying, and selling cars.

Despite the continued march of everything seemingly online, the world of car selling is a bit hybrid. Around 59% of car buyers Do online research for a car before going to a dealership, and many more consumers are using individual dealer websites and aggregated search engines like Autotrader. However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape of buying and selling vehicles has completely changed.

Today, inventory shortages of new and used vehicles are making the common practice of researching and locating cars on dealer lots almost obsolete. To counter this, dealerships must be willing to look beyond their own zip codes and consider selling cars online.

So how and why should dealerships sell their vehicles online? Let’s dive in.

Use of established online marketplaces

Most traders understand the power of Advertise your inventory online. Consumers search for their dream car, use many search engines to find a potential dealer who may have the vehicle in stock, and then contact the dealer by phone or digitally to make an appointment. Most BDC reps are motivated and paid to get people in the door.

This marketing and sales tactic in today’s market may not be enough to bring people to the door and sell vehicles. It’s difficult to get people in your area in the door if you don’t have a lot of cars to sell. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a used or new car; the problem remains the same.

Established vehicle search sites such as Bumper, Autotrader, Car Gurus, eBay and others have adapted to the modern era by offering advanced delivery options to customers looking for a specific make and model. This means that a customer buying a vehicle out of state or any other part of the state can buy a car from your dealership and have it shipped to them at their expense.

This is a game changer for modern merchants as it instantly expands reach beyond local zip codes. While crossing state lines may not be an option for new vehicles, it certainly is an option for used vehicles. If your used car manager is excellent at selecting unique or desirable cars, you may be missing out on a golden opportunity to sell those one-off vehicles to people across the country.

Regardless of which platform you use, offering an expanded shipping option allows more people from more places to buy vehicles from your dealership. Today, there are many options that allow merchants to check loans, fill out loan applications, and do paperwork remotely. Expedited shipping is also available.

Advantages of online car sales

First and foremost, the most obvious benefit of selling a car online is the opportunity to generate additional income for your dealership.

Rather than relying on local residents for sales, online car sales instantly expand your reach far beyond your market area. That means you can reach more qualified buyers with relative ease. People who would pay to have a vehicle delivered to them are very serious buyers, with less chance of these deals failing.

Used vehicles are particularly lucrative in this scenario, since you cannot order a used vehicle directly from the factory. Oftentimes, cars, trucks and SUVs with unique options are sought after by very special buyers who will pay more for the vehicle and have no problem paying to have it delivered to their doorstep. Special truck option packages, unique trim levels and sports cars with manual transmissions are all examples of vehicles that perform very well online.

Aside from the additional source of income, selling cars online can also bring exposure to your dealership and provide long-term customers and referrals that you otherwise might not be able to attract in your local markets.

Tips for selling a car online

Since selling online can mean a significant cultural change for your merchants, here are some simple tips to get you started.

staff adequate

Once you’ve committed to selling cars online, you may need to adjust your staffing. Managing an online portfolio with locally available inventory can be challenging. The best way to meet this challenge is to hire a dedicated online sales manager to manage listings, create descriptions, and answer questions from buyers across the country.

This online sales manager role will also include a logistics and operational component. You need to communicate with carriers and understand what needs to be done to move a vehicle from one place to another. Some retailers already have these roles in place, while others shift the responsibility for this task to internet sales managers.

Improve your photo and video game

Because many buyers cannot see the vehicle in person, accurate and complete photographs must be included on each vehicle for sale. In addition, a video tour is a must when selling cars online. You have to digitally convince the buyer that your vehicle is what they want to spend their hard-earned money on, and the only way you can do that is with photos and videos. Hire a professional photographer for the best results.

Be honest with status reports

Online shoppers tend to be finicky about the condition of the vehicle they are buying, so any staff managing listings must be careful to list the essential details with the utmost precision. Every single defect on the car must be documented, from scratches to scrapes and dents. Otherwise you risk dissatisfied customers. If there is anything that will quickly ruin your online reputation, then what the posts say is not honest.

The world is changing

Keeping up with the times is crucial to the success of a dealership, especially when the world seems to be changing before our eyes every day. Suddenly, online-only car sales companies like Carvana, Vroom and Shift are eating away at the revenue of established dealership models. CarMax has been shipping stock within its dealer network for years, which has led to its great success.

Traditional dealerships can compete with juggernauts like CarMax and other online-only retailers by reaping valuable revenue generated by shipping vehicles to buyers outside of their market territory partnerships with companies who can feed your dealer inventory nationwide. This is not a trend that will shrink. Selling cars online should only expand in the years and decades to come.

The world is changing. It’s time your trader is up for the challenge.

Did you like this article by Alessandro Mannino? Please let us know your thoughts, comments, or questions on this topic by sending a letter to the editor here, or contact us at [email protected]

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