Pulling out the stops to make used cars pop.
Imagine if the person who coined the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” could have dreamed of the Internet, where pictures can be worth cold, hard cash. It’s one of the single biggest factors when merchandising a vehicle online. “The more photos, the more attractive your vehicle is,” says David Sharma, Founder, Dealer InLine. “I always recommend 30 to 60 photos at least. For a fully loaded SUV like a CRV, 40 to 50 photos that show all the available options, like all the buttons and auxiliary inputs in the console. For a fully loaded luxury vehicle, 50 to 60 photos that show all the options, from lane departure warning to options on top of options.”
Photos should show an attractive background, with as many angles as possible, says Leanne Kripp, Head of Autos at Kijiji. “Well rounded photos of the condition of the vehicle, the tires, the rims, and the interior,” she says. “Those will draw the consumer’s eye because we’re visual. We love to look at photos.”
Kijiji is partnering with Carpix, a premium capture service to showcase inventory in the best possible way. “They have a number of dealers across the country that take premium photos,” Kripp explains. “They’ll provide the proper background, and the quality of their photos is second to none. It’s part of our service offerings at Kijiji.”
Shorter the better
Kripp also encourages the use of video. “Dealers can post video on our YouTube channel for free,” she says. “We’re certainly the video generation, and video provides great insight into the vehicles. It shouldn’t be any longer than 30 seconds, with either a voice-over, music or words on the screen describing what the consumer is seeing.”
“Used car pricing is like the stock market. It dips, it flows.” — David Sharma, Founder, Dealer InLine
“Everyone should do a generic walkaround video,” notes Sharma. “It should be a minute or a minute and a half. You don’t need more than that.” He recommends highlighting the tires, steering wheel, shifter, anything that has wear and tear. If there’s wind noise or other unwanted sounds, YouTube has an optio for pulling music from a library and overlaying it in the video. “Analyze your clients and match the music to their taste, like jazz for the hipster customer.”
A great video can help sell the car, as long as it’s well done, says Roger Dunbar, Vice President Marketing at autotrader.ca. “The shorter the better,” he says. “Make sure the video is engaging and anyone in it is likeable, friendly, and not too pushy. They should walk around the car the same way each time, highlighting the features of the car from a script. And make sure there’s a call to action at the end.”
Price is also an important factor. “The vast majority of consumers aren’t looking to nickel and dime the dealer, they just want a fair price,” says Dunbar. “As long as it’s in the ballpark of what they can afford.”
He notes that while dealers obviously need to make a profit, it’s wise to be transparent about pricing. “If it comes down to a tie between your vehicle and another, if there’s one that’s more transparent than your car, the consumer will go with that.”
Sharma says that pricing is just as important as merchandising. “Someone will purchase a vehicle based on what the vehicle means to them,” he notes. “They might even overpay for a vehicle that fits exactly what they’re looking for.”
Sharma advises dealers to use pricing tools like Vauto or Strathcom. “Used car pricing is like the stock market. It dips, it flows and goes up and down. You need something that’s proactive on the correct pricing strategy for your market. These tools will tell you 16 other dealers just increased the price on their CRV, and recommend that you do the same.”
And while it’s important to attract customers, it’s also important to attract the search engines for maximum exposure. “Pictures should have filenames to influence the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo,” says Sharma. “They don’t know what the photo looks like, they can only analyze it based on the file name. So instead of Image7345.jpg, you should change it to 2015 Honda CRV white. That way, it will come up when a customer is searching for that vehicle.