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By the end of Friday, 32 new cars will have been sold at 50 percent off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, courtesy of a promotion by AutoNation Direct and eBay Motors that began March 23. Several more are slated to go on sale Friday, including a Corvette and a Mustang, at http://stores.ebay.com/autonationdirect.
The sale has an added element of suspense: no one except the seller knows when the cars go up on the website. The first customer to put down a $500 deposit gets the car.
For both EBay and AutoNation, the half-price flash sale is a first.“AutoNation Direct dealers are providing the inventory, and eBay Motors is providing the sales channel,’’ said Danny Chang, the head of marketing for eBay Motors. The promotion is designed to raise awareness of the AutoNation Direct online operation.
By Friday, the promotion will have sold $834,895 worth of cars for $394,539. The sale has included new cars of numerous makes and models. A Dodge Charger, a Chevrolet Camero, and a Nissan Altima were all sold over the past week.
“We want to make sure this promotion is successful by kicking it off with what people want,” said Marc Cannon, the senior vice president of corporate communications for Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, the nation’s largest dealership company. “We want a little muscle, we want a crossover vehicle. That was a big driver in making sure that the cars have an appeal to different segments.”
Originally slated for 29 vehicles, the partners have decided to expand to 32.
AutoNation Direct and eBay Motors began working together more than a year on offers such as a guaranteed price for owners looking to sell their current cars. Though both companies have offered discounts previously, prices haven’t been as aggressive, nor has the inventory been as broad, said Chang.
Both companies relied heavily on social media to get the word out about the promotion. “Contests or discount deals are very popular content,” said Sean Wolfington, CEO of Tier10 Marketing. “They have a more desirable sharing rate than other forms of content. People are going to like or comment or share a contest that gives you a car.”
Customers who purchase cars online are still a minority. However, the Internet is cutting down on the amount of time the average person spends at the dealership. “They let their fingers do the walking through the web and mobile,” said Wolfington.
“The...majority of customers definitely want to do most of the research. They spend the minority of time in the dealership. They are oftentimes more educated about the product and the pricing than many of the salespeople.”
Though future shoppers may not find deals this sharp, those who use mobile devices and computers to buy cars from their couches will likely grow, said Wolfington.
Like many Americans, Schaffer prefers to skip the negotiating and waiting that are often part of shopping at a dealership.
“I’d rather deal with social media and buy things online,” he said. “I did the research on cars. I saw the deal pop up and knew it was a good deal and wanted to buy it now. And... here I am picking it up.”
Though Schaffer lives in Boulder, Colo., he decided to fly to Miami to pick up the truck himself. “It would cost me $1500 to ship it and maybe it will cost me $750 to drive it,” he said. “This way I get to see some family and hang out and see the sights.”
Written by Kylie Banks