The Need for Speed in Inventory Merchandising, Part 2

Published September 1, 2016
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Thanks for joining us for Part Two of The Need for Speed in Inventory Merchandising.

Since you’ve read Part One of this blog series, we can assume you’re well on your way to becoming a process improvement guru.  So let’s get down to talking about how technology can help you improve your speed to market.  Leveraging current technology, keeping in tune with cutting edge developments and asking the right questions to your technology vendors are all key ways to cut down your time to market.

Merchandise and market your vehicles while they’re still in transit. Why not?  You already own them.  If you purchase a vehicle at an auction, it can take up to 7 days to transport them to your location, and more if you’re buying out of state¹.  You can confidently market your vehicles while still in transit with the right kind of merchandising.  Getting photos of the vehicle at auction will allow you to begin to effectively market the vehicle online.  When merchandising these vehicles, you will want to be as transparent as possible.  Be sure to clearly lay out in comments and photo overlays that the vehicles are in transit and expected on the lot shortly.  This will build trust with your consumers while still raising early awareness of your vehicles.  One thing to note, before taking advantage of in transit merchandising you’ll need to research your state’s regulations to ensure you are in compliance with all local and state-wide laws.  As with any form of advertising, be sure you are following the best practices for your particular area.

Take advantage of emerging technologies and partnerships.  We’re already living in the future.  Near real-time inventory delivery with Application Program Interfaces (APIs) are available and in use today.  It’s worth noting that some companies are a little more advanced in this field than others, so do your homework when you’re choosing vendors to ensure you’re taking advantage of the products and synergies that will work best for you.  Website vendors are a great example.  Most website companies want to primarily focus on building the best sites they can, so they outsource their data aggregation.  Find out who your website uses for data aggregation or, alternately, which websites work with your current merchandising platform, and take advantage of those natural synergies.

Start asking questions, stop making sense.  Recently, I had a conversation with a Vice President at a large auto group where he relayed concerns he had about a meeting with one of his vendors.  The vendor had noticed that their group was beginning to move in a new direction, and asked why and what they could do to restore the relationship.  The VP simply stated that they had found a new company that delivered much better speed to market.  Upon hearing this, the partner objected, saying that they could deliver the same services.  The VP responded, “We’re one of your largest customers, right?  Why haven’t those services been turned on automatically?”

I tell this story to illustrate how common it can be for even the largest clients to not fully take advantage of their current platforms.  While shocking, it is pervasive in the technology industry, and can also be easily prevented.  Start an open conversation with your current vendors about what you can do today and in the future to better your speed to market.  You’ll probably be surprised at the features available to you that you’re not taking advantage of.  And if you start to get pushback, start asking why.  Asking why is a surefire way to begin to challenge the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality.  Start to ask for the synergies you need, not just the ones that make sense to them.

1. FAQ, ReadyAuto Transport, 2015