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Renault signs to eBay

Renault Retail Group has become the first major UK retailer to sign up to a new internet-based used car platform.

eBay Motors, which launched in May, says it is in talks with a number of franchised groups and manu-facturers about the service, which enables private buyers to bid for used cars online. It has already signed up around 1000 retailers, mostly independents.

The company claims a car is sold every five minutes and while it won't give exact figures, it says “tens of thousands” have been sold since launch. More than six million consumers are registered and each car typically attracts hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of enquiries, resulting in a bidding process often involving 10-20 people.

Bidding periods are fixed at three, five, seven or 10 days. Every bid captures the customer's email address, enabling retailers to build a database of qualified contacts who are considering a used car. They can then approach unsuccessful bidders directly to offer alternative models.

“Our advice to dealers is to stick with your existing disposal policy, say 60 days, but when you reach the 45th day, put the cars online with a reserve price. This will improve your stock turn,” says Paul Whitton, eBay Motors director.

eBay charges dealers £6 for each vehicle and a flat fee of £18 when the car is sold. The site also includes a feedback section where customers rate the buying experience. People are more likely to buy from a dealer with a high rating, says Whitton.

“Research in the US, where eBay Motors has been running for three years, shows that the higher the feedback rating, the higher the price at auction,” he adds. Dealers can also set up their own virtual shop on the site where they can list cars, parts and accessories for auction. Some 250 businesses have taken this approach and they are reporting massive interest – and because of the demand, including from the US and mainland Europe, many of the parts are selling above retail price.

“It's an ideal way for dealers to get rid of dead stock that has been sat on shelves for years,” says Whitton. He is confident of signing up several top AM100 groups and a few carmakers over the next year. In the US, a number of manufacturers, including BMW and Ford, use the company's website to promote approved used vehicles.

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