Inventory Listings

BRUCE HARTZ
I was just tasked to be the Internet Director for a 7 store Auto group. We have 3 BZ sites and 4 Cobalt sites. I just switched our BZ used inventory pages to Dealer Specialties and like the results. Now here's my question. Is it possible to have 1 really good new inventory module that could be used across the 2 platforms to showcase all of our 1400+ new vehicles. The BZ and Cobalt inventory pages are not very customer friendly or effective at engaging our visitors. The options are hard to find and not accurate. The call to actions for the contact forms are third world> we post prices and the forms all say Get a Quote! Our Ford trucks are especially challenging to post accurately. We fired our last site provider because they could not help us get it right only to have the same problems with BZ.The best one I have seen so far is a local Rey Rey Ford site(Chrome data) where the colors match the equipment is easy to find and they even link with Ford to show the actual window sticker.Any Ideas to help our shoppers view accurate info and give them a compelling reason to give up personal info to a business not many people trust?
Gary May
While there are good vendors around the display of inventory, although you may be challenged by your current website companies, it all starts with data. Now, while a RWS site may appear to have better results, you have to start inside. Most website companies don't know diddly about inventory so don't hold too much of a grudge. My recommendation is to start with the actual inventory: data, accuracy, cleansing, normalizing and then aggregation/syndication, etc. The ones we hear about regularly are HomeNet, AutoUplinkUSA and eCarList. While NOT endorsing a single one, you must start with what you put up. Now, if you had any of a number of other website companies, there are those that provide those kind of services as part of your package. But if you're stuck in contracts/agreements, you may just want to do a better job by having a third party take over what you display IN your sites. Want to get a little deeper? From the raw data, which actually makes the data work online, I know of no better provider than Autodata Solutions in the market today. Notwithstanding you'll likely not have a one-off agreement with them, find out who your service providers use. Not to make them change but everything, everything, comes back to data. What you should do, especially being relatively new to the position )congrats), is do a site map, process map and vendor map. Strategize with both your vendors, new vendor candidates and consultants as well as through this exact forum, to find out the best moves for your store (not the vendors or consultants). Then fire who can't measure up, hire who can, and require all companies that want to do business with you to do so WITH you. Meetings once a quarter or 30 minute calls once a month don't work. I could go on, but start with that. And one more thing: Thank you for doing a DEALER POST!!! Any dealers what to respond at 9p PT/12a ET??? Gary May IM@CS
Brian Pasch
@Bruce There are many questions that I would need to ask about your situation because if you are having issue with the inventory listing technology in place, what about the consumers who visit your site? I know with a new job you normally don't want to upset the applecart but maybe its time to look for a new platform? Selling an extra two used cars a month could justify booting a system that you seem outdated or not user friendly. That said, and if you are locked into contracts that are too costly to break, regardless of a better conversion of traffic, let me share two ideas. If you don't like the inventory listing technology on either product, you may want to consider creating a new companywide portal using better website technology from a vendor. Many multi-rooftop dealers consolidate their used car inventory into one website. In the same fashion, a central" branded" portal could list both new and used cars. You can look at www.checkeredflag.com as an example since their main site lists all cars and then each brand has their own sub-domain. This would allow you to target your overall marketing, SEO and pay-per-click spending to a site that you have full confidence that the call to action is strong and navigation easy. Secondly, if you want to bolt on a fix to each store website, you can create a sub-domain off each site and add a third party listing module like Homenet. So if you had http://www.chicagohillsford.com as a website, you could create http://cars.chicagohillsford.com and that could be where you new and used car inventory resides with a better listing module. You could then update your homepage with buttons that go to this inventory module rather than the standard one. You can direct off-site marketing to these inventory and specials pages. Both of these solutions are work arounds based on the keeping the platforms but adding a new car listing technology as you asked. A third option, is to use a third party like Homenet and "framing" in the inventory pages. This is less desirable because it kills the SEO benefit of having car listing pages as part of the overall website page count. I don't recommend it, but some dealers still operate in this model. If you have any additional questions, drop me a line. Brian Pasch, CEO Pasch Consulting Group http://twitter.com/automotiveseo brian@paschconsulting.com

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