Inventory is Advertising

Russ Chandler
For a dealer online inventory is serves as advertising as much as anything else we have. As most people would agree 3rd party venders that list our inventories online are a huge source of traffic. When these vendors list 15% or 20% less inventory it hurts. I analyze our traffic on our own site as well as anywhere else we advertise our inventory and the result is equal across the board. When our inventory levels go down so does our traffic, leads, impressions, clicks, and even average time on site. The second dynamic to this concept is that not only do the inventory levels make a huge impact but so do the makes and models that you carry. Our hottest make of vehicles on our site have always been Chevy's. Partly because we carry so many but also because Chevy is the hottest make on Cars.com and Autotrader. Now of course that doesn't me we should go out and buy Chevy's but tracking this information and then applying it to your buying strategy would seem to make a lot of sense. The bottom line is just as we use to buy that flashy yellow front row eye catcher, we should be looking to buy inventory that is going to show up in the most search results and make the most impressions. On top of that the best digital strategy and foundation in the world can be completely capped by not replacing your inventory quick enough. A true volume dealer needs to be able to replace cars as fast as they sell them. Otherwise when you sell 20% of your inventory and don't replace it, you will also see your online activity and showroom traffic drop 20% as well. Like most things in life it is easy to drop the ball but much harder to pick it back up.
Bryan Armstrong
Exactly! Great post. The reality is that your Inventory, with it's unique vehicle descriptions and ever changing collage (think "content") is what sets you apart from the SAME Dealer down the street and impacts your RANKINGS significantly as well. This is one reason I DO NOT take advantage of all the "free" posting sites out there. You allow YOUR Inventory to draw your own traffic away from you where they then re-purpose/influence your potential customer.
Russ Chandler
Glad you've reached this thought process! Inventory is your most important content. You would never see how important this is unless you tracked everything online and then cross reference with your offline data. Website analytics in comparison to very basic data like your inventory levels. Then to another level by comparing actual inventory categories and groups to your online analytics. Make the proper adjustments and continue to track it. Might take some time to get the swing of things but once you get your balance you WILL see rewards.
Ed Brooks
Russ, you are dead on here. I've said for some time that WHAT you stock is, effectively, a marketing decision. It may not be made by the 'Marketing Department", but it is still a marketing decision. Being able to stock cars that are searched most in your market absolutely gives you a leg up on the competition (subtle Provision plug).
Russ Chandler
Ed, Glad to see you AND Provision agree here. This hidden dynamic at most dealers is yet to be exploited. If "X" amount cars equals "X" amount conversions which equals "X" amount sales, then I'm definitely stocking whichever cars has the highest conversion rate. Makes sense that you build a strong bridge from the marketing department to the purchasing strategy. This isn't going to happen until your dealer admits this dynamic exists. At that point only a fool wouldn't invest in building that bridge.

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