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Best Practices

Merchandising New Cars: Is It Worth It?

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Article Highlights

  1. While it is easy to argue that new vehicles are basically commoditized – that they are the same and consumers will not need to be sold through pricing, multiple real photos and comments on new-vehicle listings – hard data involving vehicle detail page (VDP) views shows this argument is unfounded.
  2. Research has shown that new vehicle listings which include multiple custom photos, comments and pricing, generate more VDP views than listings without these critical components. VDP views are a key performance indicator because they help account for the 57% of new-car buyers that walk into the dealership without submitting a lead beforehand.
  3. Dealers need to ensure that they are merchandising their new vehicle inventory with pricing, real photos and comments. These merchandising tactics work in concert with each other, giving the most improvement in VDP views per listing to drive interest and engagement among shoppers when used together.

Through years of experience we know that great merchandising yields great results on used inventory, but many dealers still show signs of disbelief that it will lead to similar results for new inventory. While it is easy to argue that new vehicles are basically commoditized – that they are the same and consumers will not need to be sold through pricing, multiple real photos and comments on new-vehicle listings – hard data involving vehicle detail page (VDP) views shows this argument is unfounded.

Research has shown that new vehicle listings which include multiple custom photos, comments and pricing, generate more VDP views than listings without these critical components.1 And VDP views are a key performance indicator because they help account for the 57% of new-car buyers that walk into the dealership without submitting a lead beforehand.2

One of the easiest aspects of merchandising is adding prices to new-vehicle listings, yet today many dealers do not price their new inventory online. On Autotrader, there were 16% more VDP views per listing on new inventory when the vehicle was priced versus not priced.Whether this lift is because consumers think dealers are hiding something by not displaying a price or they gravitate toward competing listings that show more information, it is clearly important to price all inventory.

Not all dealers agree that spending more in advertising costs per vehicle to get photos of new inventory is worth it. However, on Autotrader, there were 99% more VDP views per listing when a new vehicle had multiple custom photos versus no photos, 156% more compared to a stock photo, and 88% more versus a single custom photo. Even a single custom photo versus a stock photo performed 36% better.2 The number of custom photos on new-vehicle listings also has an influence. For instance, VDP views per listing increase 36.2% if the listing includes 40+ vehicle images.3 Including that many photos on each new vehicle may not be cost effective, but every little bit helps. The increase in VDP views per listing with multiple real photos of each new vehicle is by far the biggest positive merchandising difference and the value is likely to outweigh the relatively low per-vehicle cost of taking at least 10 photos each of new vehicle at your dealership. Real photos of new inventory prove you have that vehicle, encourage shoppers to envision themselves in it and make it less likely that a shopper will leave your VDP to find one with more pictures.

If seller’s notes are viewable in the search results page (SRP) on your website and the third-party sites you advertise on, they also can make a difference. New vehicles with comments have shown a 27% increase in VDP views compared to vehicles without comments.2 Writing interesting vehicle comments from scratch can be a time-consuming exercise, which requires a gift of creativity not everyone possesses, but the good news is many inventory marketing software solutions offer comment-building features that make this process faster and less painful.

Merchandising your new inventory with pricing, real photos and comments will give you a leg up on the competition because few dealers do all three. These merchandising tactics work in concert with each other, giving dealers the most improvement in VDP views per listing to drive interest and engagement among shoppers when used together. Not only will your efforts will boost your VDP views, they will also increase your ranking in SRPs on sites like KBB.com, which rank vehicles based on merchandising strength to gain the shopper’s interest. For example, because data show that shoppers are more likely to engage with well-merchandised vehicles,Autotrader’s search results are now not only based on shopper search criteria, previous shopping behavior, price and distance of vehicle to the shopper, but also on merchandising. Dealers can ensure their vehicles rank higher on the SRP by making sure they are well-merchandised with quality photos, video, vehicle details, custom comments, and pricing. Finally, if you aren’t effectively merchandising your used inventory today, it is time to start: VDP views increase at an even faster rate for used inventory than new inventory with better merchandising.

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  1. Netezza Tables 1/01/2018 through 3/31/2018
  2. 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study, Cox Automotive
  3. Netezza Tables January 2018
  4. 2017 SRP Hot Spot Test