Special Report

e-Dealer 100

How effective are your used-car department's online efforts?

If you're not sure, it may be time to take a hard look at it. The reason? A recent study by Jupiter Media Metrix, shows the Web plays a more important role in used-car sales than do print ads. According to the J.D. Power and Associates Used Auto Shopper study, 75% of used-car buyers under age 35 use the Internet to find a vehicle.

Add to that, the phenomenon of the so-called Generation-Y. Typically, the twenty something and under population purchase used cars. And, these buyers are more adept using the Internet.

But many dealerships have holes in their used-car online efforts. A recent article in a recent Dealix enewsletter highlights challenges dealers have in this area. Used-vehicle inventory on the dealer's web site is out of date; pictures are missing or are incomplete and used-vehicle department sales staffs are not well versed in Web-related activities.

At the very least, dealers should require their Internet managers have a process for uploading used-vehicle inventory online, to both the dealership web site and classified sites such as AutoTrader.com, Cars.com and UsedCars.com. Each vehicle should have approximately six to ten photos attached.

Experts also suggest dealerships write a short description of the vehicle, rather than relying on acronyms that many buyers may not understand. This helps to create an emotional attachment to it.

Dealers also may want to consider doing short walk around video presentations of a vehicle. These videos can be uploaded to the dealer's web site or uploaded to YouTube or Google video. Include links to the videos in e-mail newsletters or e-mail responses to leads.

And if you're really brave, have your Internet staff experiment with text messaging and live chat. It makes sense. You may just see young buyers flock to your site.