Automotive Merchandising Best Practices

June 20, 2023

The automotive market is competitive, especially in the digital space. Dealerships need to do all they can to stand out from the crowd and attract consumers. A strong automotive merchandising strategy can help. Below, we explain what automotive merchandising entails and how to make it work for you.

What Is Automotive Merchandising?

Automotive merchandising is an umbrella term that refers to steps taken to sell a product, from advertising to promotional events, sales team training, and more.

Basically, every touchpoint with a consumer—from the first online ad they see to the salesperson greeting them at the dealership—is part of automotive merchandising. You want to optimize as many of these interactions as possible to create a strong automotive merchandising strategy.

Why Automotive Merchandising Matters

Building a strong automotive merchandising strategy takes time, money, and effort. Is it worth it? Absolutely. A strong automotive marketing strategy can help your car dealership:

  • Get discovered by and attract potential car buyers
  • Convert possible buyers into paying customers
  • Encourage returning customers, boosting consumer loyalty

Automotive merchandising is becoming increasingly important as consumers become more open to digital purchases. Already, 76% of car buyers are open to buying exclusively online¹.

As a result, the advantage that used to come with having a dealership in a favorable geographic location is less powerful than it once was. To make up for it, you need a strong online car merchandising plan.

8 Helpful Automotive Merchandising Tips

1. Play It Smart With Pricing

If a consumer only sees a giant five-figure price tag on a vehicle, they may get nervous. Present multiple price values to help them visualize the factors that contribute to the pricing and the difference between manufacturer pricing and dealer list pricing. Instead of only showing a list price of $40,000, also show a monthly payment estimate and any price changes based on the amount of time the vehicle has spent on the lot.

2. Cast a Wide Net

You can stock cars locally but still sell beyond your immediate area. Focus your strategy on meeting local demand first and then expand to demand beyond your direct market—for example, by offering vehicle delivery.

3. Build Great Sales Teams

While a lot of car merchandising is done online these days, many customers still come by for an in-person experience. Make sure your sales team is well-trained, personable, and knows the products.

4. Steer Clear of Stock Photos

Most consumers prefer to see actual images of the vehicle they'll get and not a stock photo². Invest in a quality camera to take unique photos and videos. This gives buyers more reliable information than a description alone.

5. Understand Your Customer

Do your research and identify top-selling vehicles so you can adjust your stock accordingly. If there are vehicles that are understocked in your local market, for example, that's a great niche to fill.

6. Stay on Top of Current Market Conditions

Keep an eye on the automotive marketplace using industry reports and personal research—for example, by visiting competitor websites. You want to keep up in terms of stock and pricing. Not only that, but you want to make sure your listings stand out from the competition. Help your listings shine with quality photos, engaging descriptions, and customer-focused highlights.

7. Optimize Your Online Listings

Aside from posting inventory on your website, you might also run listings on branded shopping sites and online vehicle platforms. Make sure these external listings are also well-constructed in terms of photos and descriptions. If you update any descriptions on your website, update your listings on third-party sites to be sure the listings match—you don’t want to create confusion for potential buyers.

8. Analyze your results

Keep track of your car merchandising practices and results to see how they're performing. For example, if you notice that video clips of cars are performing well, create more video content. These clips can also be good features for social media stories, and you can track the performance of those posts to see what your followers are responding to.


  1. Digitization of End-to-End Retail. Cox Automotive Research & Market Intelligence. Retrieved May 16, 2023, from
  2. Eckard, R. and McNally, J. Shoppers Want Actual New Vehicle Photos, Not Stock Photography on Dealer Web Sites. Kelley Blue Book. Retrieved May 16, 2023, from