5 Keys to More Effective Merchandising of Your Automotive Inventory

October 21, 2016

Anyone with an outgoing personality can be a car salesman, right? While it certainly helps to have a lively disposition when selling cars in person, merchandising your inventory online takes a whole different skill set.

Below are five features of an effective automotive marketing initiative.

Don’t Discriminate

All too often, car dealership websites are quick to divvy up their inventory between “new” and “used.” More times than not, it’s the very first search filter the website asks the user to select.

But while this is how cars are sold online, it’s not necessarily how they are shopped for online. In fact, 44% of Autotrader’s shoppers say they are considering both new and used vehicles in their search. And 43% of Autotrader’s new car buyers were actually looking for a used car to begin with.

The bottom line? Car shoppers are just looking for the best deal and for the car that will bring them the most value for their dollar. And sometimes the best value is actually a new car, despite the higher price point. So don’t be so quick to filter out your new or used inventory or you might risk filtering out a sale.

Price It

Many car dealerships do not put a price on select vehicles displayed on their website, instead encouraging the shopper to come into the showroom to learn the price because it’s “priced too low to advertise.”

While good in theory, the practice has a way of backfiring. When shoppers don’t see a price, they think the dealer must be hiding something. After all, if it were such a good deal, why wouldn’t they want to advertise that?

Consider that nearly 40% of car shoppers will not visit a dealership about a car if the price is not listed online. An even greater percentage will actually leave the dealership if prices are not displayed. And more than 50% will leave if a test drive is required in order to find out the price.

The lesson? Price all of your inventory online. You’re only scaring away potential customers.

Don’t Just Pretend To Be Social

You’ve heard it a million times before: Social media is the ticket to automotive advertising. But what you probably haven’t heard a million times is how poor of a job car dealerships are actually doing at it.

Consider these disturbing statistics:

  • Only 16% of messages posted by a consumer on an automotive dealer’s social channel ever receive a response.
  • When a dealership does respond to a consumer’s message, it takes nearly 12 hours to do so.

Using social media to merchandise your inventory is only effective if you actually use it.

Dial Up Your Merchandising

Most of the car buying process happens online these days. But taking it one step further, it’s happening more and more on smartphones. Research shows that 39% of car buyers used a smartphone during the shopping process in 2015, double the amount that did so just two years earlier.

The trouble? Many dealership websites are not optimized for mobile use, leaving car shoppers to bypass that site in favor of one that is. Effective merchandising involves a user-friendly experience for smartphone shoppers.

Go Into Detail

Of all the pages on your website, the most important is the Vehicle Detail Page (VDP). The VDP may be your best merchandising tool as visitors to this page are further along in your sales funnel, are smart shoppers that are conducting their due diligence, and are displaying a strong level of interest. And research suggests a correlation between VDP visits and website conversions.

MAX Digital provides an Automotive Digital Retailing platform for car dealerships to leverage the most intuitive tools and techniques to empower your customers. Schedule a demonstration to see how much more effective your merchandising efforts can be.