An average of 30 million consumers visit Cars.com every month¹. While some consumers are looking to sell their car or researching the value of their car, about 9 out of 10 are looking at cars for sale. Most of those shoppers (84%) are looking at used vehicles².
With so much consumer traffic on used car listings, dealers need to make sure their vehicles are in the best position to attract these shoppers. Leveraging our monthly consumer satisfaction, Cars.com has identified some merchandising tips to win with used car shoppers.
Consumers have consistently told us that they look at listings with as much detail as possible, including pictures. Here are a few easy ways to enhance your listings with more information:
Include multiple pictures of the exterior and interior
Vehicle photos are the first opportunity to draw attention to your inventory on an SRP – your first impression. Knowing that photos are what draws a consumer in to a VDP, keeping them interested enough to read through the vehicle specs and information is the next step. But, to get consumers to read through, they need to fall for the car and that means showing them every angle both inside and out to allow the consumer to picture themselves in the vehicle. High quality pictures showing the consumer what it’s like to be inside the car, driving the car, and even what they would look like from the outside can hook them.
Include complete and accurate vehicle specs and prices
Once the consumer has enough investment to click into a VDP based on images and some specs from the SRP, they’ll want to read more. It is important to note that consumers will often skip over listings that seem incomplete to them even if there are enough photos. Providing all the necessary information on the vehicle specs leaving no questions unanswered in the consumer’s mind is a good rule of thumb.
If they feel satisfied that they’ve been fed enough information on the vehicle, this could drive more leads. Of course, there is the old thought that leaving out some content could drive more leads by forcing the consumer to contact the dealer for more information, but given today’s fast paced online marketplace, if you don’t inform the consumer, they may go elsewhere. Including all information on a vehicle is the best bet.
For used cars, have a free CarFax report attached if possible
Nowadays, there are more opportunities to learn the history of a vehicle before purchase. Providing the likes of a CarFax on a specific vehicle’s VDP could up your chances of turning inventory. Doing so can provide a sense of security in not only inquiring on a vehicle by sending a lead, but for purchase as well. It can only help.
Consumers will often skip over listings that seem incomplete, appear too good to be true, or only include stock images. When considering one’s own online shopping behavior on, say, Amazon, it’s not surprising to skip over products with one image, a lack of product information, or with few reviews or a majority of negative reviews. This is what happens to vehicles listed online when they are merchandised poorly.
Consumers want to read about the features of the vehicle, see the vehicle they are interested in from every angle, and learn about the vehicle history when considering a used vehicle. It’s understandable, then that these are the top areas of interest for consumers when shopping online for vehicles.
Along these same lines, our Cars.com Consumer Metrics Study found that 8 out of 10 Cars.com consumers plan to purchase or lease in the next 6 months as of September 2016³. Knowing that industry trends are suggesting a drop in New car sales over the next couple of years⁴, these suggestions might seem simple, but including these details could make a huge difference in turning used inventory.
Dealers need to make sure their inventory isn’t ignored. With consumers’ ability to do so much of their shopping research online and with vehicle listing details having such a strong influence on their decision, it’s important to include as much detail as possible to fully inform them across all online vehicle listings. If a goal is to get the consumer in person on the lot or to submit an email lead, proper merchandising can be a driver to accomplish this when they online shop.
The effort put into turning a vehicle can pay off in spades when good merchandising is made a habit instead of a chore. With the right information, vehicle listings have a better chance at attracting the eyes of the millions of consumers looking at cars for sale.
 Cars.com Site Data, May 2016
 Cars.com Consumer Satisfaction Survey, September 2016
 Cars.com Consumer Metrics Study, September 2016
 2016 Auto Outlook: The Thinning of the Media Pack, Borrell Associates, 2016