2019 Vehicle Merchandising Trends to Watch

Published January 16, 2019
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“Out with the old and in with the new” is the common adage we hear when entering a new year. It’s much the same in the automotive space – ditch what isn’t working or is outdated to make room for the more effective ways of doing business.

I’m noticing the following shifts in vehicle merchandising in 2018 that you should keep an eye on in 2019.

Immersive Technology

Car buyers spend less time in the market, but their focus remains on the digital shopping experience where they can research and find vehicles online before visiting a lot. Dealers should aim to create a unique, engaging listing that captivates shoppers.

While photos and complete descriptions were great methods of doing this in years past, we are seeing the emergence of interactive media like 360-degree image captures. This method allows shoppers to imagine being in front of the car – giving them real feel on whether they want to see it in person.

You can take your 360 images a step further by introducing “hot spots.” This type of perspective allows you to call out specific points in the 360 which will open another layer that highlights an attribute of the vehicle.

Efficiency to the Front Line

You can’t sell what shoppers don’t see. That’s why cutting down the time it takes to get a vehicle processed, detailed and show ready is key to maximizing your profits.

Tracking how long it takes your vehicles to go through each department and get online with a full set of images, comments and pricing allow you to pinpoint weaknesses and areas of opportunity within your dealership. Getting the vehicle in sale-ready condition as quickly and efficiently as possible should always be a primary goal.

Differentiating the Online Experience

Competition is getting fiercer between dealerships as they vie for the shortening attention span of car shoppers. Differentiating your dealership online could be why shoppers choose your vehicles over another.  According to a HomeNet Automotive research study, 83 percent of dealers believe they can increase turns if they improve online merchandising, but only 10 percent thought their online presence was highly differentiated.

Differentiation can be achieved through several different avenues. The quickest ways to stand out from the crowd are to supply the shopper with what they’re looking for. It can seem obvious, but custom images, descriptions, pricing, videos, and 360s give the shopper information they need to make a purchasing decision.

Implementing the above trends in your dealership is sure to prevent you from fading into the background in 2019. While it can be a lot take on, the payoff is certainly worth the effort.