Special Coverage

NADA Convention & Exposition

ORLANDO, FL – Trying to sell a car online without listing a price is like attempting to cross a lake in a rowboat without oars. It’s possible, but not likely to happen.

Yet, 7% of dealers posting inventory on the Internet fail to include pricing information, a Cars.com study on the impact of online marketing on shopping behavior reveals.

“Generally, a listing without a price means it is not going to get looked at,” says Michael Page, vice president-affiliate sales for Cars.com, an online automotive marketplace.

Such a conspicuous absence of vehicle information reflects a disconnect between results dealers want and actual merchandising practices, he says here at the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention.

The study analyzed customer behavior relating to 230,000 new and used vehicles listed on Cars.com for two months in 2009.

Also running counter to what makes online customers click is that 13% of the vehicle listings were without photos and 13% lacked descriptive “sell” copy.

“Online success begins with making the car the star and offering greater transparency for the customer,” Page says. Online shoppers want information that will “help them make an informed decision.”

If failing to include a price is bad, listing a high price arguably is worse.

“Anything a dealer does on the marketing side is not going to overcome a price that’s not competitive,” Page says. “Competitive pricing drives customer interest. You don’t want to be too low, but you want to match the marketplace levels.

“The days are pretty much over of being a couple of thousand dollars above book and hoping to loop someone in to get a real high gross profit.”

sfinlay@wardsauto.com