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Online service for dealers

One of the challenges for every dealer selling used cars is ensuring their stock gets maximum exposure.

Enabling as many people as possible to view cars will obviously mean that stock turn is quicker and the price achieved is higher.

The internet is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to selling, but it is still one that dealers do not fully exploit. We’ve all heard the message before but the motor retail industry has been slow to react.

Paul Davis, sales director of Vcars, says: “Unfortunately there are still a lot of misconceptions about the internet. Some dealers are waking up and the ones that are now doing well recognized its importance a long time ago.”

These dealers are still in the minority. Davis highlights the case of a dealer he was working with that spends just 12% of its marketing budget on the internet and yet 85% of its enquiries come from it.

“Dealers have advertised with newspapers for years and see it as a comfort blanket. They think that if they stop advertising, people will think they have stopped trading. Newspapers still have a part to play but the days of having to run a two-page spread with a list of all the cars a dealer has in stock are over,” adds Davis.

Variety of websites to choose from

Selling used cars via the internet is now easier than ever. There are a host of websites to choose from and a variety of ways in which to sell.

Parker’s Cars For Sale is part of the parkers.co.uk site. The service was launched November 1, 2005, and caters for franchised dealers only – a unique offer.

With just under one million users online, the audience is massive, ensuring maximum exposure for dealers’ used stock. And research by Parker’s shows that its users are serious buyers, rather than just window shoppers.

“The franchised dealers fit our user profile. Our research shows that most people are looking for vehicles up to five years old,” says Kieren Puffett, editor of Parker’s Car Guides.

Users looking for a valuation can click to a list of cars for a particular make and model, drilling down to information such as transmission type, fuel and distance from their location. From this, users can also click through to the dealer’s website.

“This integrated approach is seamless for consumers. We are also generating traffic for the dealer’s website, allowing users to view all of their stock,” says Puffett.

Paying extra for quality service

Parker’s says its users will pay extra for a quality service. And dealers have bought into that idea, with more than 2,000 signed up and 64,000 cars listed for sale. It’s also recommended by several carmakers, including Peugeot, with more to follow.

Dealers can get activity reports on individual cars, allowing sales managers to see which cars aren’t selling, and they can also view the postcodes of people viewing their stock – helping them to target their marketing in the appropriate areas.

Using the web as a marketing solution

For consumers, the ability to maximize choice and to find the right car in the right place is the major appeal of the internet, and the rollout of cheap broadband services has made it much quicker to use.

“The search is the typical starting point for someone looking for a used car on the internet. Dealers can take advantage of the ability of search engines to bring buyers to their own websites,” says Skupe commercial director Alex Chisholm.

SkupeNet lists cars from 4,000 UK car retailers – around 200,000 UK cars. It has approximately 100,000 users.

“Our advice is to try a number of services and see which delivers the most favourable combination of sales volume and cost. Dealers need not limit themselves to one internet distribution partner, the market is changing fast and they need to evolve to keep step,” adds Chisholm.

Empowering dealers to market stock

Autotrader, part of the Trader Media Group, recently launched Dealer Edit, which allows dealers to upload and manage stock online. It’s simple to use but isn’t exclusively for use with autotrader.co.uk.

“Dealers could use Dealer Edit but not actually advertise on our site. It’s more of a marketing solution and allows them to upload their stock to third party sites, too. We want to empower dealers to market their stock in the best possible way,” says Jonathan Williams, head of marketing at the Trader Media Group.

The company has also launched a dealer portal on its website (autotrader.co.uk/trade). This area is specifically for dealers and provides services such as valuation tools through Cap, and a service that enables comparisons on advert performance against the local and national averages.

“We want this to be a one-stop-shop. It is part of our move into the dealer services market, which includes dealer-branded showroom displays,” says Williams.

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