Category Archives: eBay

Gas Prices, Economy Driving Interest in Small Cars

In recent years, industry attention has refocused on small cars. However, with gas prices recently topping $4 per gallon, the spotlight on fuel economy and the cost savings associated with small used cars is growing brighter.

The average price for a small used car has increased 2 percent in the past year, from $9,278 to $9,470, according to wholesale auto auction data from the National Automobile Dealers Association. Small used cars are increasing in popularity in searches and bidding on eBay Motors.

According to a report from Forrester Research, Inc., online retail sales in 2007 increased 21 percent over 2006. E-commerce continues to grow in part because online shoppers are less sensitive to adverse economic conditions than the average U.S. consumer. As a result, dealers are wise to consider moving more of their marketing budget online to drive small used car sales.

A sample search on eBay Motors in May shows 81 listings that advertise great or good gas mileage. Cars such as Ford Escorts and Geo Metros and Storms are being listed – and bid on – more frequently as consumers become increasingly concerned about how much it takes to fill a tank.

Near the end of May, 41 Geos and 43 Escorts were currently listed, with upwards of 40 bids on some cars. One Chevrolet Chevette and even a few Dodge Omnis were listed. The small cars have been popular, with multiple bids and growing prices on some of the vehicles, sometimes over the estimated value.

Consumer interest in small new cars is impacting overall sales for the OEMs, too. Sales of the Ford Focus increased 44 percent in April, Toyota Prius was up 54 percent, the Yaris up by 46 percent. and Nissan cars altogether increased 20 percent. In looking at long-term trends, Ford Focus sales have increased 24 percent in the last year on eBay Motors. Although small car sales are somewhat positive, the majority of automakers are experiencing decreasing overall sales as consumers become more hesitant to buy new as the economy wavers.

With an expanding market, auto dealers are giving small cars a renewed look. Once unpopular after SUVs became the consumer darling, small cars of the 90s are now back in style, sometimes seen as a smart investment when it comes to gas mileage. And many consumers are finding these used vehicles online.

According to J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Used Autoshopper.com Study, Internet sites such as eBay Motors are increasingly leading consumers to the actual vehicle they buy. Last year, nearly one in four buyers of late-model used vehicles utilized an Internet vehicle locator or online classified ad service to find the vehicle they purchased. That’s nearly a 44-percent increase from 2006.

A quick avenue to increase used vehicle sales is to market that inventory online. In fact, the J.D. Power study reports that last year was the first year that Internet use surpassed all other shopping methods in locating the used vehicle that a buyer ultimately purchases.

Dealers can invest staff, time and money to create expanded Web sites, purchase online advertising and engage in search engine optimization. Another option is to partner with third-party sites that already have these functions successfully in place.

Once a dealership is ready to sell small cars online or is looking for insight into pricing, research can offer hidden gems about knowing how to describe and price items that will sell more quickly.

Sellers can identify the most profitable small cars by learning about the demand and average sales prices for specific makes and models on eBay Motors. In addition, sellers can learn more about advanced information like the sell-through rate, which is the number of items sold versus the number available on the site.

Looking at the average selling price and sell-through rate of various listings of the same model year of a small car can often point to listing characteristics that yield more successful results. Listing characteristics include what listing features were used, the day and time the auction starts and ends, and the listing format, among others.

In addition, noting the titles and descriptions that have worked for the same or similar vehicles can help develop a competitive listing. The “top searches” module also lists the most common search terms based on keyword or category. Including these most common keywords within listing titles can increase the exposure of listings to more buyers. With this feature, sellers can determine if buyers are searching for “gas mileage” or “good MPG” instead of or in addition to a specific model.

Once the research has been completed, the golden rule of merchandising online is to always provide as much information as possible. Research shows buyers are more likely to purchase online when they feel comfortable that they have been given all the information they need. Providing detailed photos, disclosing even the tiniest defects and offering accurate mileage and current MPG information, if available, will create more confident buyers.

With gas prices reaching record highs every day, consumers are starting to change their habits. Small used cars are an appealing way for car shoppers to save money in an unstable economy and still enjoying summer travel. This trend is an enticing opportunity for dealers to market their inventory of small used cars where consumers are shopping—online.
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Written by Rob Chesney
Vice President
eBay Motors, Marketplaces
RChesney@AutoDealerMonthly.com

Photographing Vehicles for eBay Listings

eBay Motors hosts an average of ten million visitors each month and is a leader in the online used car market which translates into millions of potential customers. When selling your car on eBay Motors, it is important to provide prospective customers with as much information as necessary in the listing to make an informed decision since they are not able to physically kick the tires.

Although the written description of the vehicle is important, good photographs of a vehicle are critical as they lend credibility and verify product attributes highlighted in the listing. Vehicles with high-quality photos usually receive more bids and sell for higher prices that those without images.

Taking the pictures

The best photos take into account two key essentials of photography: lighting and framing. Some simple lighting steps to keep in mind can mean the difference between sharp, attractive vehicle images or murky, fuzzy photos where details disappear. Likewise, keeping the key elements of the photo in frame and undistorted will provide a clear and easily viewed representation of the vehicle.

Lighting tips:

[list:nymrg5t8]- Shoot your pictures in early or late sunlight—about 30 minutes before sunset or after sunrise. The lighting will be warmer and sharper when the sun is at a lower angle.
– Be sure to take your photos on the sunlit side of the car, with your back to the sun. If you shoot the side of the vehicle that’s in shadow, you’re likely to mix direct glare from the sun with a considerably darkened car and end up with little more than a silhouette of the vehicle, rather than details. When shooting both sides, front and back, move the vehicle as necessary so that the area you’re shooting faces the sun.
– When photographing the inside of the vehicle and the engine bay, use the camera’s flash. Be careful, however, to avoid directing the flash in a way that reflects in a mirror or shiny surface. A burst of reflected light can wash out some essential details. Tilt the mirror slightly away from the camera if it is likely to reflect the flash.
– Watch out for shadows. With your back to the sun, your own shadow probably will be cast on the car. Position the car at an angle that minimizes shadows on its surface but still allows you to obtain at least a ¾ view. [/list:u:nymrg5t8]

Framing tips:

[list:nymrg5t8]- The vehicle should fill the frame of the picture, without a lot of ground or sky surrounding it.
– Get in close. Show as much detail as possible, especially when shooting damage and the interior aspects of the vehicle.
– Rather than shooting down on the car, get a low, flat angle. Position yourself at about headlight level to get a straight-on shot that doesn’t distort proportions or features.
– Avoid extreme wide-angle lenses that can cause distortion.
– Photographing the vehicle’s features[/list:u:nymrg5t8]
eBay Motors recommends starting with at least 12 photos to show the following areas:

Exterior

[list:nymrg5t8]- left side
– right side
– front
– rear
– top
– close-up of wheel[/list:u:nymrg5t8]

Interior

[list:nymrg5t8]- front seats
– back seats
– carpet
– trunk
– dashboard
– odometer close-up[/list:u:nymrg5t8]

Exterior
When photographing the exterior of the vehicle, think of the buyer first approaching the vehicle and taking in its overall appearance and style. It is important to provide a full exterior view so the buyer can have a full perspective of the vehicle. While you can shoot several ¾ views to capture the front, back and sides all in two photos, it is best to provide four separate images showing each side, the front and the back. It is critical that the front and back of the vehicle are clearly visible because these are the areas that most often distinguish makes and models from each other. The other essential exterior feature to photograph is the wheel. A close-up wheel shot will allow the customer to see the type and customization of the wheel and wheel covers. You may even include the tread to show the amount of wear.

Interior
Now that the customer has virtually walked around the vehicle, show them the interior of the vehicle. In your interior photography, document all the important details that the customer will find inside the vehicle. A shot of the dashboard will inform the buyer of the available analog or digital instruments as well as the type of sound system with which it is equipped. The odometer close-up will verify your statement of the vehicle’s mileage. Shots of the seats can give the buyer an idea of the trim and comfort level of the vehicle as well as the condition of the upholstery. An image of the seating controls also can point out power risers, heating buttons and other special seat features.

Vehicle damage
In providing vehicle photos, it is essential to offer close-up pictures of any visible damage. For your own protection and for enhancement of your reputation as an honest seller, the potential buyer must be cognizant of any known problems with the vehicle prior to the sale. Include a clear photo of the damage and accompany it with an accurate and straightforward description of the problem. Typical problems that you should point out in your photos include dents, rust, faded paint, scratches and damage to the interior, including rips or tears in the upholstery or headliner. Honesty about vehicle damage to a potential customer gives them with confidence in knowing the true condition of the vehicle and comfort to purchase the vehicle online.

Engine
Another area that should not be overlooked is the engine compartment. Potential buyers like to know that the engine has been maintained. Moreover, a photo will confirm that the engine’s type, style and condition are as you describe them in the listing. The best shot is one showing the entire engine bay. Be sure to throw extra lighting into the area under the hood to bring out the details and overcome shadows.

Photos are the closest thing to a test drive that your eBay Motors buyer is likely to experience. Give the customer a feeling of assurance and satisfaction through an array of pictures that fully describe the vehicle and its special features. Your photos will drive sales, and customers will bid with confidence in the vehicle.

What’s All the Fuss About eBay?

About eight years ago, I received a call from an auto dealer telling me that he heard about eBay, and was interested in finding the best way to list his inventory on their auction website.

Selling cars on eBay? I thought to myself, will that work? Are people actually buying cars sight unseen?

I had made several purchases on eBay, but the thought of buying or selling a vehicle on their site never crossed my mind. This was worth researching.

I scoured the Internet day and night gathering as much information as possible on Internet car sales and eBay. To my surprise, thousands of cars were bought and sold every month. How is this possible? Are the sellers offering their cars at a much lower price than the local retail lots?

Filled with more questions than answers, I started doing my homework and soon realized that eBay was quickly becoming the largest online database of vehicles, second only to AutoTrader.com. Could it be? Could I be at the cusp of an upward trend towards online car sales? Naah, it’s just a fad. EBay will go away in a year and no one will sell any vehicles on their site.

That same night, the thought and fuss about eBay became abundantly clear. Eureka! This is it! It makes perfect sense. As a car buyer, I can search a database of thousands of cars, find everything I need to know about the vehicle from the auction information, enter the dollar amount I’m willing to pay, wait a couple days and if my bid is competitive enough I would have bought the exact vehicle I wanted with all the features, and paid the max that I was willing to pay for it.
No haggling with the dealer, no weekend drives to 10 or 15 lots to find the car I want. No salesman trying to put me in a vehicle I don’t want, just a smooth easy process. So this is what all the fuss is about! This is what the consumers want.

EBay is changing the way cars are being purchased. No longer am I limited to vehicles in my area. I can now buy from anyone anywhere, and have it shipped directly to me. No longer do I need to spend my weekends traversing lots hoping to find a good deal. It’s all at my fingertips!

Let’s face it. As a dealer you know your customers want a deal. What they don’t want is the haggling of a salesperson, and spending long hours at a dealership doing it to get a deal. Most people know what they want, and will have a price in mind as to how much they are willing to spend. When they visit the lot, they are thinking that all I want is a car at a fair price.

With the abundance of information available to consumers today, most will already know what a fair price is. They look at your competitor’s ads, and other online resources to determine the value of the vehicle they are interested in purchasing. The last thing they want is a long drawn out process of sitting in your office trying to come up with a final price for the vehicle. All of their fears and issues have been solved by eBay. The question is now, what do you do about it?

Millions of registered eBay users are buying and selling vehicles to the tune of 3.5 billion in 2003. As a dealer, eBay needs to be a part of your sales and marketing strategy. eBay should be just as important as your auto trader, Internet, radio, TV, and print ads. If you’re not on the Internet yet, you need to get there fast.

If you would like to see your sales explode, start looking at eBay today. Your sales success is only limited by your inventory. If you have cars to list on eBay, you will generate both sales and leads. eBay is the only website where you can list 20 cars today and have those all sold in as little as 3 days!

I can prove this to you over and over again, but the only way you will ever be convinced is to try it for yourself. You can do what I did. Research, ask questions, visit eBay, search for a vehicle and take a look at the feedback of the sellers. You will soon be convinced that eBay is the next big wave for exploding used car sales.

So what’s all the fuss about eBay? The fuss is sales.

Five Things You Should Know When Selling on eBay Motors

With a struggling economy and consumers concerned about job security and gas prices, among other issues, new auto sales have been on an extended downward trend. As such, buyers are reconsidering new vehicle purchases and focusing their attention on used vehicles.

Internet use has surpassed all other shopping methods as the source for locating the vehicle a buyer ultimately purchases among late-model used-vehicle buyers who go online during the research-to-sale process, according to J.D. Power & Association’s 2007 Used Autoshopper.com Study. In fact, the proportion of used-vehicle buyers who ultimately found the vehicle they purchased on the Internet is 10 percentage points greater than the number of shoppers who found their vehicle through the second most popular method, visiting dealer lots.

An increasing number of dealers are discovering that online used vehicle sales are a direct and efficient way to increase revenue that has been battered by a decrease in new vehicle sales and foot traffic. When selling a vehicle on eBay Motors, the rules of the road are: add complete details to listings, constantly communicate with customers and offer the same customer service you would to in-person buyers. By pricing vehicles to sell and building an online reputation, dealers can earn consumer trust and create repeat buyers.

1. The sale is in the details. To build a solid reputation online, begin by providing every detail you have available regarding vehicles you have listed. For example, take pictures of a vehicle from all angles, including any dents, scratches or other imperfections. The buyer will find these things eventually, so it’s best to be upfront at the beginning of the process.

Accompanying the photos, a thorough description can also shed additional light on your listing. Provide complete details about the vehicle, including a list of features, the vehicle’s history, the vehicle identification number and the terms of sale.

When listing, be sure to thoroughly review vehicle protection programs and see if your listing is eligible. These programs can provide an additional level of confidence to buyers making large purchases online.

2. Constantly communicate. Once you have finessed your listing and it is active, you must monitor it closely to watch for bidder inquiries and feedback. The more customer-friendly you are, the more potential you have to convert interested parties into buying customers.

Ensure that the contact phone number and e-mail address on your account is accurate. A serious buyer is likely to initially contact you with questions to learn more about you and your dealership and, after the bid, to finalize details. Responding in a timely manner is both expected and courteous.

3. Build a reputation. The Internet allows consumers to search a vast selection of vehicles, read reviews and reports, compare prices and look for deals. Most importantly, they can do it all at their own convenience. It is important for dealers to take advantage of this type of consumer behavior by establishing a presence online.

Dealerships can create custom pages so potential buyers can gather information about the business and feel comfortable before making a purchase. A custom page serves as a store Web site and informs your potential customers about the dealership, its background and types of vehicles offered. It also can include frequently asked questions and any financing options.

You can include narrative content on these pages, so if your buyers regularly customize vehicles or if you also sell accessories, you should include that information as well. The more information you provide, the more opportunities you have to showcase your expertise and ultimately make a sale.

4. Price to sell. Your customers are looking for a vehicle that is competitively priced. If you’re pricing high and expecting to negotiate, customers likely will search for another vehicle with a lower starting price.

Not only is it important to price competitively but you must also be willing to negotiate. Dealers have the option to add the “Best Offer” function to each of their listings. Best Offer allows dealers to accept offers from multiple buyers, select the best offer, and negotiate a final price.

Another option is to let bidders know that they have financing options through either your dealership or as provided through eBay Motors’s financing center. Let them know they can apply for a loan before they buy.

5. Don’t forget customer service. Your online buyers demand the same kind of attention, service and responsiveness they would receive on the lot. Dedicating staff to your online presence will enhance your dealership, put your customers at ease and increase your sales.

Most successful dealers have an assigned sales staff handling all online activities. One or more individuals should be selected to carry the responsibility for your online sales. They can establish relationships with potential buyers and close the deal without disrupting your existing dealership operations.

Respond to questions from potential buyers promptly, whether it is through e-mail or phone. Always pay attention to the feedback your customers are giving you to help you provide even better service in the future. If you are using an eBay Motors account, be sure to monitor your official feedback. Positive feedback is especially important, as it establishes credibility and helps comfort your prospective customers when making a large purchase online.

The ability to market and sell vehicles online is becoming more critical every day. By knowing what and how to sell on an online auction site, dealers can increase their reach without major capital investments.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Written by Rob Chesney
Vice President
eBay Motors, Marketplaces
RChesney@AutoDealerMonthly.com