The answer: Great vehicle merchandising.
As an industry we understand the value of images when it comes to inventory merchandizing. We’ve progressed from the days of no photos, to a couple, to some dealers who now display 40 images or more. Video is also increasingly used for inventory merchandising. The problem is that, because of standard processes, these vehicle images tend to have no character or personality.
In my experience, most dealers still resort to price to make their inventory stand out because that is what EVERY other dealer does. While most dealers have tons of images and video there is nothing to differentiate one for the other, so the customer is forced to weed out vehicles and narrow down their choice purely by price.
Well, guess what? That doesn’t have to be the case!
No salesperson would simply show a customer in front of them a random list of every standard feature and let them sort it out for themselves. Well, this is exactly what is happening online. Don’t force the customer to wade through lists of hundreds of features generated by VIN explosions and fail to do the one thing that a salesperson would do with the customer in front of them: sell the features of the actual vehicle.
If that customer were to ask the salesperson why the vehicle is priced higher than similar vehicles they researched on their smartphone while on the dealership’s lot, the salesperson would point out the differentiators for this specific vehicle that justify the higher price.
There are countless reasons why a Ford F-150 A is different from Ford F-150 B. You wouldn’t leave it up to the customer to figure it out, but would explain it to them right up front by highlighting what makes the vehicle special. You certainly wouldn’t rattle on about how the truck has air conditioning and power windows (but that is what many of your VDPs do online).
The same concept applies to online vehicle merchandising. When posting images of your inventory online stop and ask yourself the single most important question:
What’s special about this vehicle?
Ensure that any features that make THIS vehicle different from others are included in the images. Make it easier for a customer to identify and discover that vehicle.
Don’t omit pictures of a tow hitch on a truck, forcing a consumer to wade through options to figure out whether the truck has one. Or, why would you omit the fact that this truck has Blind Spot Assist Level 4? Including this data front and center cleverly combines rich media with relevant data, more effectively merchandizing the vehicle online, setting it apart from competing vehicles.
And what about those features which are simply impossible to explain online in a normal way? Well, the good news is that OEMs have already created media to do just that. However, many dealers aren’t taking advantage of these resources to help better sell these vehicles.
For example, on recent 911 Turbo models, the front suspension is so low that the front of the vehicle scrapes when entering a driveway. Well, Porsche included a feature called the “Front Axle Lift System,” where a customer can push a button which lifts the front end slightly, allowing the driver to pull into their driveway without the front-end scraping.
Even if a consumer were to read this feature in the laundry list buried below the fold of a VDP, they may not know what it is or what it means. If you have one of these in stock you would be wise to include the rich media created by the factory to highlight and explain the feature. This builds value in the vehicle and increases consumer interest.
Shifting a customer’s mindset, primary concern and interest away from price, and towards an individual vehicle, increases the likelihood that the customer is interested in the vehicle for what it is, rather than how much it costs. This way, the customer will find price differences easier to overcome right from the start. When you begin the conversation, this customer already knows why your vehicle is priced higher than other, which reduces friction in the process, creates a better customer experience, turns inventory faster and allows your dealership to hold gross.