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Be careful, that is a trick question!

In my opinion, "Transparent Pricing" is the virtual version of the real world's proven value of earning a customer's business with honest, full disclosure relationship based selling by giving him a fair price without any hype or sales pressure; or at least that is the definition that I am using to pose this question!

In literal terms, it could mean up front price disclosures on a website - not necessarily tied to the market or even a competitive price - just the best one that you are willing to post without asking for his social security number or first born.

That is the trick to the question. Technically, for a transparent price to be effective it must exist in an equally "transparent" - or confidence building - environment. In the absence of comparables it isn't clear - transparent - as to wether or not the price is good enough to make a buying decison so an Internet shopper may have to check other virtual showrooms to gain the confidence he/she needs to be willing to give you the "key to their vault."

That is a bad thing since the last site is often the winner even though they got the keys to the vault by confirming your honest efforts to offer a fair price in the first place. Hey, no offense but you aren't the only nice person on the Internet and we all pay the same for the vehicles. (Technically, that may not be true given certain "push-pull" programs and internal packs or other anomolies but - I am getting off the point!)

Also, before you reply with something that will distract from "price" as the key to this question - I know that there are many ways other than price to build confidence - and I will discuss those in another forum - but for now, let's address the "price shopper" since statistics confirm that the price offers the highest "conversion" rate on the World Wide Web.

Sites like EveryCarListed.Com rely on "one site shopping" with over two million vehicles posted so a direct price comparison can be researched to satisfy the need for "transparency" to make a decision without leaving the site - again, we are only talking price for now!

To build the relationship that it takes to convert to a real world deal EveryCarListed.Com also offers upgraded packages to allow a dealer to develop his "personality" and separate themselves from the masses to improve the "transparency" of the whole transaction - but, it all started with the price since that is often the "first filter" that the site visitor uses to drill down to the vehicle and the dealer.

Other solutions for "price transparency" are being developed with new inventory based sites getting ready to enter the US market like DealMaker.Com.. They offer a market driven "transparent pricing" strategy that works like a stock market report that organizes ALL of the vehicles for sale on one side of the screen with exact "granular" comparisons and initial prices set by the dealers with ALL interested buyers invited to set a price that they are willing to pay. Once the buyer and the seller have had a chance to see where the market has set their "best price" and both parties are confident that the price is the best one - at that time - in that market, they have the confidence that they need to make a deal and the site allows them to do it with their online transactional capabilities!

There are dozens of other applications and processes to develop transparent prices that can consumate a deal on the first site visit. That is why I started this forum.

I am looking for applications to develop transparency for my affiliated automotive advertising agencies and dealer clients to apply to their virtual showrooms. If you know of one, or - better yet - if you represent one, please reply with your solution to what I trust you agree could be the keys to the vault for future online sales.

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I can only speak from our experience of offering the lowest possible prices in our local markets and displaying those prices clearly online & on every vehicle.

No need to negotiate & no need to play games with people on the phone. Online shoppers either make their way back to us after visiting another dozen sites or we're their last stop.

End result: A much happier guest b/c of the unique experience...lowest prices & full disclosure.
Not similar - IDENTICAL! The common bond is the human factor which transcends all verticals in the real and the virtual world. Frankly, stories like yours drill the point and value of "Transparent Pricing" even deeper because it doesn't trigger the defense mechanism from auto dealers who may not get it yet and think that they are giving up gross.

Remember, a transparent price doesn't always equate to the lowest - just the best in the eyes of the customer and the one that is most likely to earn his business!

Thanks for the insight!
The only true transparent solution is one that offers the final price. Tax, tags, doc fees and whatever else you want to throw in, just so long as I know what I am paying at the end of the transaction and can COMPARE that with others. The sites listed above in my area at least do not offer anything more than I can already get from or Autotrader an upfront raw price for the vehcile only. The next killer inventory application will allow the consumer to start with a selected vehicle and determine the out-the-door price before they step foot in the door. So I am curious, does anyone give an OTD price on their site or at any point prior to test drive at a dealership?
Yes, DealMaker.Com is a complete online transaction application that integrates the dealer's paperwork - including trade-in, applicable rebates and fees and finance terms as part of the online offfer and acceptance. The listings are free to both the seller and the buyer. Only if all terms and conditions are met, and the customer takes posession of the vehicle as anticipated, does DealMaker collect their fees - and the fees to Dealmaker are only distributed to them from the collected and cleared funds as a "cost of sales" by the dealer.

The "beta" test has been completed in Google Base in Europe with over 11,000 test transactions/negotiations and they are introducing it as I write this response.

Scott -

Agreed; this is the next step...

I need to create the solution which provides this info dynamically.

These prices aren't available on my site but they can be disclosed (as best as possible) based on the location of the store. (ie: doc fees vary)
Thanks for the affirmation Scott. As always, YOU GET IT!
In a market like ours that is not always easy to do. We are close to the state border and fees and taxes are different not only from state to state but also in the various counties that surround us.
I agree that the individual "bottom line" with appropriate fees requires more customer input or involvement - which might "cloud" the transpaernt price BUT, that's where technology and online applications trumps people.

Ai Dealer, for example, has an online self serve desking tool that replicates the role of the real world desk - or F&I office - on the virtual showroom and allows the customer to plug in his information to receive an "out the door price" including the trade-in, bottom line price with his taxes - computed just like it is in the real world - and even get his payments based on his credit application and acceptable finance terms.

Similarly, DealMaker.Com allows anonymity to both the customer and the seller untill all terms are disclosed - and agreed upon - including the out the door - tax and fees included - price. It is not automated and instant "transparent pricing" regarding the final out the door computations but the glass wall stays up during the "negotiation" process and the consumer stays in control long enough to create his own "transparent price" vs. the online marketplace of dealers fighting for his business before he has to tell anyone who he is. This process develops similar confidence for the customer and the end result is the same - "transparent out the door pricing" without the sales hype..
I totally agree! The new generation of online shopper does more research before they purchase a vehicle. We recognize that and try to make it easier on both the dealer and customer. Like Phil said, our advanced packages have a lot to offer both the dealer and the customer, by giving them all the tools they need to strike a deal that both parties have confidence in. Here is an example of an ad on our "Gold" package. We have a few new features up our sleeves for this as well. Please check the site for the latest news!

Thanks Meg, too bad you didn't have the SiSTeR Technologies Video CarLot on that example. I know that a linked CarFax, banner ad with a branding statement and some of the other new features in the "rumor mill" will really "clear up" the message. (A play on "transparency - get it!)
Oops, you're totally right! Here is a better example!

These videos are compiled automatically so busy dealerships get the benefit of a video without the hassle of having to put it together! ` Another fun feature I'd like to point out is to the right of our video. Take a look at all the sharing features and links to the dealer's web site, directions, dealership inventory and call tracking!
Can you upload other video if you use another service?


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