What is Automotive Merchandising and Why Does it Matter?

What is Automotive Merchandising and Why Does it Matter?

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 think, as every form of contact between your dealership and your customers, from ads and your website to speaking to your sales staff, fits under that umbrella.

A strong automotive 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, and others are trying to sell similar vehicles to your potential customers. Employing a strong automotive merchandising strategy helps you by:

    • Helping your dealership be discovered by shoppers
    • 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 automotive 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

Keep these in mind as you learn some strategies for strengthening your own merchandising

Consumers Make Their Decisions Online

People used to shop around at multiple dealerships to find the cars they wanted. Now 46% of people only visit one dealership. They’re not doing any less shopping. They’re just changing the location. The average buyer spends more than 16 hours researching their automotive purchases online.

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

Consumers want transparency. Your online ads, 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. If your dealership does not have an online component to your merchandising strategy, you will get left behind.

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 a huge part of merchandising.

Customers can verify the information on your website, so make sure it is all accurate and up to date. They also expect similar accuracy and honestly 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.

Visuals Can Be as Important as Content

It doesn’t matter how much online content you have, if your website looks unattractive or is difficult to read or navigate, potential customers will lose interest.

Web pages need to be well-designed and intuitive. The information should be organized in a way that is easy to digest and understand. Use of good photos and other visuals can also do a lot to enhance a page.

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 by pointing out what makes your products unique, you demonstrate your value.

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 automotive 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 turns your sales team into experts on every vehicle on your lot. Sign up for a demo and learn how MAX can help your dealership.

Reviewing the 8 Most Important Tools at an Automotive Dealership

Reviewing the 8 Most Important Tools at an Automotive Dealership

The most important automotive tools are not a socket wrench or tire jack. They are the ones used to acquire, appraise, merchandise and sell cars.

Below is just a sampling of the many automotive tools you’ll find at MAXDigital.

Does Your Dealership Make the Most of These Automotive Tools?

  • Vehicle pricing tool. A vehicle that is priced based on assumptions and estimations is one that is likely priced incorrectly. A vehicle pricing tool uses actual data to help dealerships price inventory based on market research and sales data. Not only can this tool help you remain competitive, it can provide greater transparency for consumers.

  • Appraisal tool. A trade-in is more than just a blue book value. It’s an opportunity to maximize gross profits. This tool leverages the power of comprehensive and accurate vehicle market data so dealerships know what to buy, how many of them to buy, and what price to pay for them.

  • Vehicle display page. A vehicle display page (or VDP) is perhaps the most important tool in today’s information-centric marketplace. Online visibility is enhanced when all the requisite information such as fuel economy, options and upgrades is visible on a single page.

  • Inventory management. An inventory management tool helps increase gross profits by reducing inventory turnover time and generates data about which cars are right for any given market location.

  • Digital retailing. Easily create web pages, digital showrooms, and relevant ads by integrating this platform with your inventory management tool.

  • Pricing proof points. Accurate data is used to generate reports that justify and explain why a car is priced a certain way. Not only does it protect your bottom line, but it cultivates trust and builds transparency for the consumer.  

  • Online reputation management. Defend your name and business against online attacks. Some 87 percent of car shoppers consulted online reviews when choosing a dealership to visit according to one recent survey. With consumers placing such a high level of trust in social media and online reviews, this tool is critical to reducing or eliminating negative reviews and restoring your reputation.

  • Analytics. Tracking the actions and behaviors performed on your website allow you to customize marketing efforts accordingly.

Open Up The MAXDigital Toolbox  

The key to the MAXDigital automotive toolbox is also the key to maximizing your marketing and sales strategies. Explore some of our other tools, or better yet — schedule a free demonstration to see these tools in action.

How to Monitor Your Online Reputation: What Are They Saying About You?

How to Monitor Your Online Reputation: What Are They Saying About You?

Research suggests that nearly 80 percent of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Close to 90 percent of people trust those reviews as much as they do friends or family.

Today’s business owners have less control over their reputation than ever. But there is still plenty you can do to monitor and shape your digital image. Below are five of the best places to seek feedback about your online reputation.

Online Reputation Management for the Digital Car Dealer

Google

So many consumers begin their search for your business with Google so it only makes sense your search for what they’re saying about you begins in the same place.

If you have a Google account for your dealership, use Google’s “About Me” or “Me on the Web” tools. These resources provide a comprehensive snapshot of almost everything on the Web containing your business or personal name.

Yelp!

Yelp! has become a go-to resource for many consumers to post and read reviews, and it’s a prime destination for a dealership owner to seek out what those customers are saying. Yelp! also has instructions for how to respond to a review so you can take back some control of your reputation.

Glassdoor

What your own employees say about you has as much to do with your online reputation as what your customers have to say. Glassdoor is an opportunity for employees to post reviews about their work environment, and it’s a good way for dealerships to see if any bad reviews may be an inside job.

SiteJabber

SiteJabber is centered largely around reporting scams and fraud and is unique in that, unlike some review sites, businesses cannot pay money to remove negative reviews. Business owners are free to respond and manage their online reputation, though.

Social Mention

A huge percentage of online reviews exist not on dedicated review sites but on social media, where people go to tell their friends and followers about their experience with a particular business. Social Mention collects real-time information about your business from over 100 social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Take Control of Your Online Reputation with MAXDigital

MAXDigital helps car dealerships create and cultivate their online reputations through a variety of proprietary tools. We can even integrate your website with Dealer Rater to show your online ratings directly on every vehicle display page.

Schedule a demonstration to see how MAXDigital can help you gain control over your online reputation, boost your brand image, and improve sales as a result.

How Long Will the Good Times Last? Selling in an Increasingly Digital Marketplace

Dealerships face a constant struggle to sell in a digital marketplace that continues to grow. The vast majority of consumers research vehicles online before ever stepping foot inside a dealership. On average, they spend 12 hours researching vehicles online, and many times are still researching while in your showroom. This new buying process means it is time to reevaluate and adapt your sales processes to make sure you win over today’s digital consumer. Where to start?

MAXDigital SVP of Strategy and Innovation, Patrick McMullen, will outline how to understand today’s consumer. How do consumers search? How do consumers buy? Can they be separated? Today’s consumers purchase based on a combination of quality and value and consequently want to know they are buying the vehicle at a fair price, but they are not buying based on price alone.

Building trust with your consumers is a crucial step to winning them over and you can only do this by being fully transparent across all information sources.

To hear more from Patrick about how to sell in an increasingly digital marketplace, attend his NADA session:

Thursday, Jan 26

1pm

Room: 201-202

Key Advantages of Co-op Programs and OEM Partnerships

Key Advantages of Co-op Programs and OEM Partnerships

Co-op programs have a reputation in the automotive industry — and it’s not always clearly understood. Too often when we ask someone how a co-op works, they respond: A manufacturer gives a dealership free money to increase their advertising budget.

In reality, it’s not that simple. The money supplied by manufacturers for co-op advertising often comes with guidelines because, by definition, a co-op is a cooperative society, business, or enterprise. Basically, when a dealership opts to enter into a co-op with an OEM, all advertising efforts become a joint enterprise with benefits to both parties.

Find out how co-op programs can actually benefit your dealership when used effectively.

Continue Reading…

5 Keys to More Effective Merchandising of Your Automotive Inventory

5 Keys to More Effective Merchandising of Your Automotive Inventory

Anyone with an outgoing personality can be a car salesman, right? While it certainly helps to have a lively disposition when selling cars in person, merchandising your inventory online takes a whole different skill set.

Below are five features of an effective automotive marketing initiative.
Continue Reading…

How Car Dealers Can Optimize Used Vehicle Inventory Performance

How Car Dealers Can Optimize Used Vehicle Inventory Performance

If you work at a car dealership in 2016, you’re in a good place. The most recent NADA Data Report says that “the past six years have been the longest period of new-vehicle sales growth since the 1920s,” and this year’s outlook shows the trend continuing.

Here are some of the milestones attached to that assessment:

  • Total dealership revenue across all stores in the US reached a new high of $862 billion in 2015, a 6.9 percent increase over 2014.
  • Franchised new-car dealerships sold more than 17.3 million new cars and light trucks.
  • Average selling price of a new car/light truck: $33,419 (2.5 percent increase over 2014)
  • Average selling price of cars from used vehicle inventory: $19,397 (2.9% increase over 2014)

Perhaps more exciting than growth for the auto industry is growth for local economies. Almost 150 new dealerships opened in the past year, and more than 1.1 million people were on a car dealership’s payroll. That’s a 4.3 percent increase over 2014. Dealerships employed 67 people on average last year.

These numbers are compelling, and they say good things about the health of the auto industry overall, but we know that dealers are always looking to do better. Where is the next big opportunity?

Continue Reading…

3 Reasons Why Every Dealer Needs Precision in Pricing

3 Reasons Why Every Dealer Needs Precision in Pricing

Today, savvy car shoppers do most of their research before they stop by your showroom. They narrow down a selection of cars they want, investigate trim levels and feature lists, and carefully consider option packages. Customers want to figure out the mental math behind a vehicle’s price tag before ever hopping in for a test drive.

Now more than ever, the importance of pricing awareness hits home not just with consumers but with dealerships.

As consumer behavior evolves, so too must that of salespeople. Executing precision in the pricing of a vehicle is becoming a critical step in closing the deal. There are three major reasons why car dealerships must be extra careful with the way they price their vehicles.

Continue Reading…

How Real-Time Data Improves Your Sales Process

Infographic detailing sales process acquisition price merchandise sell for car dealerships

 

The car-buying process has moved online. Most customers are doing research on a combination of OEM, third party, and dealership websites. Once they visit a dealership, they spend time showrooming, comparing the cars on your lot to your competition across town.

If you want to adapt to the digital age, protect your margins, and stop the drop, you’ve come to the right place. MAXDigital is the only provider that can help you improve your sales process every step of the way. Our software and tools use real-time data to bolster your acquisition, pricing, merchandising, and sales procedures.

Learn more about our solutions here, or schedule a demo for any of our products. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions about how MAXDigital can help you.

What is the Importance of Cost-to-Market Appraisals?

What is the Importance of Cost-to-Market Appraisals?

When you’re doing car appraisals for your pre-owned inventory, you likely have two goals:

  • Acquire cars your customers want to buy
  • Reinforce your bottom line

Further simplified, you’re looking for the right car at the right price. How can you guarantee that these goals are in line with one another? Those are two birds just waiting to be taken care of with a single stone, but you need the proper tools and strategy if you want to pull it off.

MAXDigital offers just the solution you need: an exclusive Cost-to-Market Appraisal tool that lets your dealership effectively leverage data.

Let’s take a closer look at what we mean by cost-to-market appraisal and why it’s vital to your success in the digital age of car-shopping.

Continue Reading…