Merging Engines of e-Commerce Create Online Inventory Merchandising Powerhouses for Dealers

Over the last 15 years or so, a wide range of digital marketing tools have emerged to help auto retailers broaden their marketing reach and merchandise their products in exciting and effective new ways. These tools have turned auto retailing upside-down, driving more sales from internet ups than curb ups. They have helped dealers sell inventory across the nation not just across town. Hardly a dealership today does not take advantage of these tools.

Yet as effective as these tools are, they require the used car manager or internet manager to “flip a lot of switches” as if directing an orchestra in order to gain optimum results from these activities and investments. Frankly, most dealerships using separate systems to achieve an optimal digital marketing effort waste too much time logging into and then switching between multiple systems and screens and managing and handling inventory changes/updates and data integration across all systems and all online marketing sites. Not only is all this busyness time consuming for already busy managers and staff, but also the efforts often result in less-than-ideal online presentations prone to listing and pricing errors.

Fortunately, new data exchange methodologies and systems integration techniques now make possible collaborative e-commerce marketing for dealerships like never before. This integration eliminates multiple steps otherwise necessary to achieve a broad-scoped digital marketing and merchandising effort. These new methodologies deliver a unified, single log-in solution that simplifies for dealers how online inventory is listed, processed and managed, how it is kept current and fresh across all online inventory listing sites, and how resulting leads are captured and pursued.

The merging of these technologies into a unified solution drives one central goal: If you want to sell more cars online, your online listings must be compelling, current, and consistently merchandised across all online sites in which you list inventory, especially the dealership website, potentially the dealership’s most powerful inventory sales tool. Furthermore, all this activity must be as automated and as hands-off as possible so staff can concentrate on leads closing.

That such solutions focus intently on improving inventory merchandising on the dealership website cannot be over stated. Most online buyers visit a dealership website when they’re close to making a final vehicle and dealership decision. Nothing will send them scurrying off your website faster than website inventory that’s presented, described, and/or priced differently from the third-party listing sites versus your dealership website.

Driving today’s improvements in digital marketing methodology is a revolution in data exchange and systems integration. This advancement brings several key benefits to dealers, including:

  • Integrated, multi-system marketing power, including dealer website technologies for ensuring accurate, timely inventory listings and merchandising that attracts and holds eyeballs and guides visits with one-click ease to the dealership’s key profit centers to drive more leads.
  • Greater lead conversion, as leads from the dealer website, online inventory sites, or other sources are captured for follow up and pursuit by an integrated Customer Relationship Management system. Improved lead and customer pursuit and follow up will mean more sold deals and greater return on a dealer’s marketing dollar.

  • DMS-integrated online inventory listing, publishing and management to the dealership website and third-party inventory-listing sites, with one-stroke simplicity to all sites. This integration helps ensure that inventory on the website and other sites is fresh and priced accurately across all inventory listings, a key feature for catching eyeballs and clicks.

  • Given that this data now flows directly to key online merchandising and promotions components seamlessly, used car and internet managers responsible for internet marketing investment P/L will want to adopt some new and different operating processes:

  • Tightly integrated web design, lead management and follow up along with more frequent data feed updates to the dealership’s own website as well as third-party sites like cars.com will help participating dealerships command their online marketplace.

  • Develop the habit of reviewing online inventory listings throughout the day to stay current on what online presentations are aging and which ones should be refreshed in comparison to the competitions’ listings.

  • Use inventory comparison tools to evaluate make/model/age against others in the market and adjust prices accordingly and frequently.



  • Use an online inventory listing service that enables mass listing updates. In other words, use a service that permits the updating of all listings across all of the sites on which that inventory is listed, including the dealership website, at once. The result is no more inconsistent or noncompetitive pricing from site to site.

  • Understand the increased impact the dealership website will make to sales. Consumers ready to buy start focusing their search more intently on inventory listed on their local dealership websites. These shoppers are typically further along in the sales funnel and tend to submit more qualified and hotter leads—or simply call the dealership. Consistent merchandising and pricing of inventory across all marketing channels will build consumer trust in the dealership and its products and services.

  • Practice better customer relationship management.

  • Maximize all best practices in online inventory merchandising, putting into action all the e-commerce marketing tools available. This includes incorporating into your listings attention-getters like live chat, streaming video, multiple vehicle images, text-over images, personalized vehicle descriptions, vehicle biographies, silent salesman tools, craigslist listings, online auction listings, and more to get shoppers eyeballs to stick on your listings longer.

  • New online listing data exchange technology adds new dimension to online vehicle inventory merchandising, presentation, and lead follow up. In addition to having listings enhanced with the right merchandising tools that attract shopper eyeballs, now listings can also be consistently presented and priced right for the particular market – and adjusted throughout the day to remain so. Today’s advanced ecommerce digital engines for the auto dealer now simplify and power up online inventory merchandising and marketing like never before.

    Skip Murphy is a director at Trinity Suite, a new single-source digital marketing/lead management solution driven by AULtec, DealerFire, and e-autobusiness. You can reach him at smurphy@trinitysuite.com or www.trinitysuite.com.

    Skip Murphy

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