As a third-party website owner, I don't see why it wouldn't be a good idea to list your new cars on the web. Even if the inventories move fast, there's certainly some SEO benefit (if done correctly) to tie a search for the new vehicle back to your dealership and/or website.
My wife actually just bought a new car from a local dealership after searching www.EasyAutoSales.com. We went looking for a new 2009 Honda Fit and although the dealership no longer had the one we found online in stock, they had other comparable Honda Fits on the lot that allowed us to do the test drive. The point is, by having samples of their new car inventory on the website, we ended up going to their dealership over the other few Honda dealerships in the area that did not list their new inventories on the web.
Regardless of specials, deals, promotions, dealer reviews and other factors, sometimes people do just search online for what they want and go to the first place they find that has the answer.
Most of the dealerships I work with have new car inventory listed on the web and it is one of the top five pages accessed by viewers. Inventory is also one of the five main reasons people do research online. If you are looking for an advantage, shoot a few actual pictures of the new vehicle so people can see the actual color.
Most of the web site suppliers who recommend NOT displaying vehicle inventory do so for their own selfish reasons... Paying fees to companies like DMi to do the data extraction and then to data conversion companies like AutoData drives up the cost of doing business. If a dealership website supplier can convince a dealer not to display inventory, they are more profitable... Period.
The fact remains that inventory is the most often cited feature that consumers demand when visiting a dealer's web site.
I truly believe that a dealer who just has a "virtual inventory" for new car inventory positions themselves as a "price" store where the consumer focuses on - how much will you sell it for, I can get this car anywhere, from any dealer. There is nothing engaging about virtual inventory.
Like Ralph and Matt stated, people are looking for the dealers actual inventory - what do they have in stock. In fact, if someone lands on a website that not only displays actual inventory but also actual photos, it makes price a side issue. When people go to a dealer website they want to see what the dealer has for inventory and when they find it, they inquire about it. If you put actual photos, you will find that you get more phone calls and emails asking if you still have it. That's the color I want and the options I want, do you still have it.
I have done this at more than one dealership and it works very great. Figuring out the process in which it gets done, is another issue (at least initially). What made the difference for me was having the VinCamera because it saved soo much time for my ISM's. Take pictures of 5 or 6 cars that were dropped off from the transport and cleaned up and simply plug the VinCamera in and let the software do the rest. It will match the stock numbers and pictures to the ones in the Inventory module. While they are uploading, you can work on other things.
When you have actual photos you can also send them actual photos in your quote which is very powerful and much more engaging for the customer instead of looking at stock photos or text.
Having actual inventory on your website is must and if you can set up a process to take actual photos, even better!
New inventory on a dealer site can be very beneficial if the dealer has the inventory to begin with' and in most cases, dealerships inventory tends not to have all trims, colors or models available and this is one of the main reasons people leave. In most dealership web sites, inventory is one the highest viewed pages on the site but it is also one of the most dropped out of without a lead submission. The overall conversion generally increases on sites that use a virtual inventory product in place of new vehicles inventory.
Does izmocars say that dealerships should not put their new vehicle inventory on the web? NO, dealers SHOULD have their inventory posted on the web on places like Yahoo, AOL, Cars.com, AutoUSA, Autobytel and other industry car shopping sites. Putting on their own site is another question all together. Inventory for the consumer allows them to find the true car of their dreams or does it allow for them to search your competitors if they don't find what they are looking for?
In the end, it is the dealership's choice. I will say that we have an even split of dealers that have both data and new inventory on their sites and it is not an issue of saving money to make profit on our end. Our toolkit product allows the consumer to view the vehicle of their choice and see all the pictures, colors and features offered on a particular model and not have to worry about leaving false inventory up to make them believe you have everything. Do customers have champagne taste on a beer budget? Do customers ever car up online? What percentage of leads that come in from the internet and get flipped from what they originally wanted? What if you don't have the car color the customer is looking for in your inventory? Our toolkit product allows for dealers to have a choice with an industry leading FLASH animation tool that creates a virtual inventory.
I was intrigued by Wei Yang's comment regarding new car inventory and he is making my point for me. What he is not mentioning is what happens when the consumer doesn't find the car they want and leave your site and head to the competitor, or did he? "Regardless of specials, deals, promotions, dealer reviews and other factors, sometimes people do just search online for what they want and go to the first place they find that has the answer." So what if you don't have the color, trim or model they are looking for? Re-think about virtual inventory.
I completely agree with you about the need for inventory transparency, but having had a direct personal involvement with John Anderson and his stores in the not-so-distant past, I do have to chime in with an observation based on facts.. Not my opinion. The AndersonDirect.com website for Anderson Honda produces an average of over 90 leads per day because of that inventory access triage. As much as I tried to criticize it when i was working with them, the vast majority of the leads that Manny Souza and his team receives are valid and they do sell a lot of new Hondas to those leads... Now, when we tried the same strategy at their Chevy store in San Jose... Nothing, the inventory seekers simply left the site. Same process, 2 different dealerships and brands, and 2 completely different results.
I may not always agree 100% with John Anderson and Manny Souza on everything, but these guys are seasoned professionals with over 10 years of online marketing success behind them. They are credible and successful.
In my opinion, the system at AndersonDirect.com works so well for Anderson Honda because they have supported it with advertising that sets the consumer's expectations properly. Consumers KNOW they will need to enter their name and email to access inventory, and most of them do.
I can hear all the objections now... But, keep in mind that AndersonDirect.com is not one of my company's websites, I just happened to personally witness its success on a first hand basis.
I will not begin to judge you or your company in this forum. You obviously missed my point and quickly try to be-little our product and benefit in a cheap manner for your own company's benefit, which one of its main products is dealer inventory. The irony of your choose of using Mickey Mouse is funny to me, because of an article in Wards Auto by Cliff Banks:
"Most dealerships probably would delete an online lead from “Mickey Mouse.” Not David Shear – he turned the lead into a sale. The Bob Howard Automotive Group sold a car to Mickey Mouse. At least, that was the name on an Internet lead e-mailed to the Oklahoma City dealership, No.2 on the Ward’s e-Dealer 100. Many Internet managers probably would have deleted the e-mail, assuming it was another one of those bogus leads. David Shear, the Internet director for the Group I Automotive-owned store knows enough to know what he doesn’t know. Pursuing the lead, he learned Mickey Mouse is the e-mail address of a real person who was in the market for a car. “I’m not sure I know a good lead from a bad lead anymore,” he says. “We should always evaluate ourselves.” Cherry picking leads, or working ones that seem most promising, is an easy habit to fall into. So is coming up with excuses on why a lead didn’t lead to a sale. “We’ve all done it,” Shear says. “‘It was a bad lead.’ ‘There was no phone number.’ There was no response.’” "
My main point again is that New Car inventory posted on a "dealership site" might not be in the best interest because of outside factors. One of the main goals of a dealership website should allow for the consumer to convert to a lead so dealer may have the chance to follow up. In a majority of dealerships they don't have the inventory and a lot of times the customer will keep looking somewhere else rather then submit a lead a virtual inventory will allow you to just that.
In the end I am here to answer David Ruggles question and not start an attack on you or your organization.
I wrote my response above before seeing your response... However, I hope this exchange will give you an idea of how open and reality based the ADM professional community is. We welcome your participation and I personally promise that there will be no censorship or one-sidedness in regards to vendors and their products. Our greatest hope for ADM is to be an online exchange of ideas and intellectual assets.
From my experience changing two different dealer groups (and advising several clients of mine) from a virtual inventory to an actual inventory, we received more leads. We also received a lot more phone calls having actual inventory as well.
In this example, there are 21 photos, a video and a why buy here graphic. I have used 5 or 6 pics with good success as well.
The video is a Saturn video instead of an actual walk around. I have used both. For used, a personal walk around is a must but for a new car, either way seems to work good.
The VinCamera not only takes the photos but also will take the video walk around as well.
Set up an effective process to take pics, video, comments, etc and then once it is set up, make sure it continues on whether you lose personnel or not. Trust me, you will see results if you stay after it.
I hope this gives you a few things to think about, look at and consider.
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