(Part 2 of a 4-piece blog series on vehicle merchandising)
Continuing this vehicle merchandising best-practices series, I would like to discuss how to display your inventory online to its best advantage. As the old saying goes, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” Well, when it comes to your online inventory, never have truer words been spoken.
There are hundreds of thousands of vehicles available for consumers to choose from – and these days it’s not just in their local market. Nowadays shoppers can find a car that piques their interest anywhere across the country. Gone are the days of having a monopoly on your local customers – and that is for ANY dealership – franchise or independent.
The Internet is where consumers start their journey. They inevitably end up on VDP pages – whether that’s on your dealership website or a third-party site. The dealer that best captures that online shopper’s interest has a definite edge when that consumer is starting to select a specific vehicle.
I’d like to share 5 key things highly successful dealers do to make their online inventory stand out.
1. Interaction Is Key: Consumers want a more-immersive online experience. Gone are the days of scrolling through pictures one by one -- they simply don’t have time to do that. When it comes down to a final selection they could be choosing between 10-20 vehicles. Who wants to scroll through 800 pictures to decide which they like best? That just makes the process tedious and boring and the consumer will just go elsewhere to conduct their research. Use interactive tools on your website VDPs to engage a consumer (such as the ability to zoom or pan around a vehicle). Allow consumers to explore features THEY care about. Don’t fall prey to taking the “easy way out.” Nobody is really interested in those tired old images any more.
2. Place Key Features Above the Fold – Most VDPs include all sorts of useless information – the car has air conditioning, power windows, etc., but lack information about what actually makes the vehicle of interest to shoppers. Don’t bury features consumers really care about in a bullet-pointed list. Highlight the special features in the description and/or in photos. Online shoppers don’t want to expend time trying to search through those stock bullet points to find whether your vehicle has a tow package or navigation. If the key features are below the fold you risk losing that shopper to the competitor that provides a better online experience.
3. Use Scarcity to Create Urgency – For decades, travel sites have used scarcity to drive conversion, claiming there’s only one seat left on a flight for example. Dealership sales/BDC teams do the same thing, but miss the opportunity to use scarcity to their advantage on the web. Show clearly how many people are looking or interested in that vehicle and you’ll see an immediate jump in conversion.
4. Recommendation Engines Work – The last time you searched for something on Amazon, I bet you were presented with options similar to the item you were searching for, correct? Typically, something to the effect of “people who looked at this item also looked at these items.” Don’t lose potential sales by letting the customer’s ONLY option be the one they are currently looking at. Recommendation engines identify similar vehicles and show the customer alternate options. Maybe the one they were looking at wasn’t an exact fit, but the one you serve up as an additional option is. They may never know if you don’t help them find it. Make it easy for them!
5. Consider Alternate Mediums for Mobile Browsing – Today’s consumers increasingly do their shopping on mobile devices or tablets. That makes the presentation of vehicles (VDPs) on mobile devices critical. Tiny thumbnails on an iPhone just aren’t going to cut it anymore. With mobile screens getting smaller, consider leveraging things like the gyroscope/accelerometer to drive the user experience. I also expect gesture control to become a critical component of the browsing process in the coming years.
Stay tuned for part 3 of this 4-part series.