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Seeing Is Believing

Telling Your Value Story Through Photos


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Article Highlights

  1. High-quality photos of inventory are a critical part of merchandising that optimizes the effectiveness of online advertising.
  2. Use multiple custom (not stock) photos that show a variety of interior/exterior details to shoppers as soon they see the thumbnails on the Vehicle Details Page.
  3. If you already have a vehicle with good photos that has been on the lot for a number of days, consider is adding a “walk-around” video of the vehicle to accentuate desirable features and help "bring it to life" in the eyes of interested shoppers.

The goal of online merchandising is to differentiate your inventory and your dealership from the competition in a crowded marketplace. To get consumers engaged in the process of purchasing from you, your online merchandising must create value in the minds of shoppers. Your goal is to influence shoppers to choose you.

The photo tips presented here are best practices that can be implemented on your dealership website as well as with your inventory listings on third-party websites like Autotrader.com and KBB.com.

High-quality photos of online inventory are a critical part of the vehicle merchandising that is essential to optimizing the effectiveness of advertising on third-party sites. In fact, 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 Search Results Page (SRP) by making sure they are well-merchandised with quality photos, video, vehicle details, custom comments, and pricing.


Great photos can motivate customers to stop, look, and ultimately buy your vehicles. Use multiple photos as a virtual “walk-around” of the vehicle to help sell the features to potential shoppers. Listings with photos perform significantly better than listings without photos. In fact:

  • Multiple custom photos versus a stock photo increases click-through to New car Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs) by 133% and Used/CPO VDPs by 349%!2
  • Adding price & photos increases New car VDP views by 10% and Used/CPO VDP views by 87%.2
  • The number of custom photos on vehicle listings also has an influence. VDP views per listing are 64.8% higher with 40+ photos.3

Here’s a tip about your photos: show a variety of interior and exterior shots and angles within the first nine photos to ensure that shoppers get a virtual walk-around in the photo thumbnails as soon as they arrive at the VDP.


Pick a good digital camera that takes high-quality pictures. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good camera. Today’s smartphones can capture remarkably good images.


Choose a nice location with minimal distractions, a neutral background and good lighting. Avoid dark shade, objects or trees that cast shadows, or direct sunlight that creates glare.


The car you’re taking a picture of should be the only one in the photo – don’t take pictures of the car when it’s still in the inventory line.


Include photos of the actual car you are selling (new and used) to build value and interest. Never use a stock photo of the car. Capture as much detail as possible in each photo, like the odometer reading and tire tread, for example. Finally, make sure your photos are up-to-date. For example, don’t show a car on a snowy lot when it’s the middle of the summer.


If you already have a vehicle with good photos that has been on the lot for a number of days, consider adding a “walk-around” video of the vehicle. Video is one of the best ways to showcase a vehicle, and a “walk-around” video tour gives shoppers a chance to see “their” car.

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1) 2017 SRP Hot Spot Test
2) Netezza Tables 10/01/01/2017 through 12/31/2017
3) Netezza Tables January 2018