Digitization in Automotive Merchandizing Still Far Off in Today’s Online Retailing Landscape

Even before the pandemic expanded online retailing, automotive dealers knew that photos were the most important thing they could leverage to bring their vehicles to market. While dealers now know that a car with zero photos receives zero clicks and ultimately few leads, the photos and merchandizing process for today’s modern dealership is still not where it should be to engage with customers in today’s digital retailing landscape.

According to a recent survey[1], roughly 50% of dealers currently spend $30,000 to $40,000 or more every month in digital vehicle advertising, with a whopping 75% only bringing their cars to market two to three days or less every week. This is a tremendous loss of time-to-market and a potential loss of advertising dollars, which results in a tremendous amount of missed opportunities. Only bringing your cars to market 2-3 days per week means you're conservatively only bringing your cars to market half the year.

Dealers Must Up Their Photo and Video Game

With everything we know today about online retailing, there are still too many dealers leveraging the wrong photos. As photo, video and 360-degree angles of the vehicle are vital to the buying process, dealerships need to create a better online experience for their customers. Just imagine seeing sloppy burger pictures on a new restaurant website. Obviously, you would find those photos unappealing and the same applies to vehicle inventory photos, in which these photos should be the first thing that customers see that represent your dealership on your website.

With more consumers shopping for new and used vehicles online, we still don’t seem to see dealerships streamlining their photos and videos with advanced, digital software, not only to take them quicker, but also for the purpose of improving the Vehicle Detail Pages (VDPs).

12% of dealers said they use a software or application to take and upload their own vehicle photos, with another 30% saying they have to train someone new to take photos every week. Nearly 20% also said it takes them a day or two to get their photos and videos loaded onto their website. With this in mind, it is time for dealers to convert from the standard camera to digital software throughout the photo and video process to improve the experience, but also get ahead of the competition.

The use of a physical camera is not only inefficient, but just shows how obsolete the vehicle photo and video process still is for many dealerships today. As we take everyday photos and videos on our smartphones or tablets, vehicles should be no different, in which today’s camera technology on these devices range in the tens of millions of pixels for the purpose of photographing vehicles.

Quality and speed are the name of the game for the modern auto dealership and with many customers not being able to see a particular vehicle in-person these days, there must be accurate and complete photos and videos listed on every vehicle for sale.[2] Moreover, integrating interactive 360-degree angles of the vehicle should also be a must when selling cars online, as customers can be more easily convinced to buy without having to physically visit the dealership.

The Need for a Digital Vehicle Image Strategy

To overcome these challenges with vehicle photo and video, dealers need to leverage digital, in-house software on a mobile device that help streamline their big lot operations. As 53% of dealers still use a photo vendor service to take their vehicle photos and videos, this legacy form of merchandising is certainly not optimal.

The trick now for dealers is to find the best software or company that gets their photos and videos both edited and published daily. Not only will there be an efficient process in place, but in-house photographers will also be properly trained, and all content will be quality controlled before going up on the VDP.

With an end-to-end photo, video and 360-degree solution, all automotive dealerships will be able to list and sell their vehicles faster. 31% of dealers have already said their VDPs are up significantly this year thanks to the right digital vehicle image strategy, with 33% seeing their gross profit margin increase 10% to 15% above sticker price.

About The Author: Peter Duffy is the Founder/CEO of Dealer Image Pro™, a professional photo, video & 360 software company based in California. Dealer Image Pro helps hundreds of dealers take their merchandising in-house by offering the equipment, unlimited training, and professional editing, and quality control for all of the dealers they work with. They are experts in-house merchandising and studio design for auto dealers. For more information visit https://www.dealerimagepro.com/.


[1] https://www.autosuccessonline.com/dealer-image-pro-survey-new-infor...

[2] https://www.cbtnews.com/selling-cars-online-how-and-why-dealers-sho...

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