In today’s incredibly competitive and increasingly digital automotive market, dealerships need to do whatever they can to set themselves apart from their competition. Chances are there’s a dealership a short distance away that also sells the same vehicles you do and at similar prices.

So, how can you make sure shoppers come to your dealership when it is time to buy? That is where having a strong automotive merchandising strategy comes in.

What Is Automotive Merchandising?

The most simple definition of merchandising is any behavior taken to promote and sell a product. This includes more than you may think. Every form of contact between your dealership and your customers fits under that umbrella, including digital ads, your website, and contact with your sales staff.

A strong used car merchandising strategy means optimizing as many of these interactions as possible.

Why Is Strong Automotive Merchandising Important to Your Dealership?

Unfortunately, your cars don’t sell themselves. Others are trying to sell similar vehicles to your potential customers. Employing a robust used car merchandising strategy helps you by:

  • Helping shoppers discover your dealership
  • Convincing those shoppers to come into your dealership
  • Converting prospective buyers into customers
  • Encouraging those customers to return to your dealership

What You Need To Know To Have Strong Automotive Merchandising

As we’ve mentioned, strong car merchandising encompasses many aspects of your business, including:

  • Marketing and ads
  • Your website content
  • Your website’s design
  • Sales-customer interactions
  • Customer interactions with any member of your staff

Remember these as you learn some strategies for strengthening your merchandising.

Consumers Make Their Decisions Online

People used to shop around at multiple dealerships to find the cars they wanted. Now, 41% of people only visit one dealership1. But visiting fewer dealerships doesn’t mean customers are doing any less shopping—they’re just changing the location. The average buyer now spends around 14 hours researching their automotive purchases online before ever setting foot in a physical dealership2.

To be found by these shoppers, you need to be where they’re looking. Place ads on the third-party websites they use to research, like and Autotrader.

Consumers want transparency. Your online ads, vehicle detail pages (VDPs), and other merchandising pages need to have thorough and detailed information on each vehicle. It is paramount that this content includes price justification, which lets customers know they’re getting a good deal.

Don’t expect this online shopping trend to slow down. While the pandemic accelerated the increase in online auto shopping, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere post-pandemic. You will be left behind if your dealership does not have an online component to your merchandising strategy.

Trust is Important, Make Sure You’re Accurate

In past decades, auto salespeople have developed a reputation for being untrustworthy. Consumers just accepted dealing with this as an occasional part of life. With the increased emphasis on information and transparency, building trust has become an enormous part of merchandising.

Customers can verify the information on your website, so make sure it is accurate and current. They also expect similar accuracy and honesty from your sales team. If your facts are off, you run the risk of losing trust, and people will not buy from you if they do not trust you. A strong inventory management system can help ensure your staff and website keep all the details about your vehicle streamlined. 

Visuals Can Be as Important as Content

It doesn’t matter how much online content you have. Potential customers will lose interest if your website looks unattractive or is difficult to read or navigate. Poor navigation and an outdated design are among the top reasons visitors leave websites3. Don’t risk losing customers due to a poor visual layout on your website. 

Web pages need to be well-designed and intuitive. You should organize the information in a way that is easy to digest and understand. The use of good photos and other visuals can also do a lot to enhance a page. If possible, include videos. More than 70% of vehicle buyers say online videos have helped them learn about auto products they plan to purchase4

You Need to Make Each Vehicle Stand Out

Chances are, you’re not the only local dealership selling from your manufacturers, and you’re certainly not the only local dealership selling your class of vehicle. Give buyers a reason to choose your specific car.

People don’t shop based on price alone, and anyone can lower the price of a car. Shoppers want value, and you demonstrate your value by pointing out what makes your products unique.

Mention unique attributes of the vehicles on your inventory. Maybe it has some luxury or tech package. Perhaps it has very low mileage. Include this information in your ads and website content. These details also help justify when a vehicle has a higher price than a competitor’s.

Make Your Automotive Merchandising Stronger With Max

No one said strong car merchandising would be simple. Fortunately, MAX Digital can make it much easier. Our online auto merchandising platform helps you enhance your online content, create informative ads, and turn your sales team into experts on every vehicle on your lot. Sign up for a demo and learn how MAX can help your dealership.


  1. Weisbrot, E. (Jan 29, 2021). 52 Surprising Car Dealership Statistics for 2023. JW Surety Bonds. Retrieved Sept 20, 2023 from, 
  2. Andersen, D. (Sept 16, 2022). 35 Statistics Automotive Marketers Need to Know in 2023. Invoca. Retrieved Sept 20, 2023  from, 
  3. Fitzgerald, A. (Sept 4, 2023). 25+ Web Design Statistics that Are Essential to Know in 2023. Hubspot. Retrieved Sept 20, 2023  from,
  4. (June 2019). Implications of the Consumer Journey on Ad Effectiveness. Think with Google. Retrieved Sept 20, 2023  from,