The vast majority of shoppers buying a vehicle after visiting the dealer’s website do so after examining the Vehicle Details Page (VDP) of one or more vehicles in the dealer’s inventory. The information on the VDP has a huge impact on conversion, the percentage of those visiting the site who phone, email, or chat with the store. So I sat out to identify the types of information a dealer might provide on the VDP to convince the shopper they are the right store and have the right vehicle. Some of the items are basic staples of the dealer’s website, but issues of quality merit discussion. Other items are far less frequently found of dealer VDPs, yet can make a considerable impact on conversion.
The importance of vehicle photos has been well documented. Larger vehicles and vehicles with more features require more photos, Like SUVs and club cab pickup trucks. Inside the vehicle, it’s important to demonstrate the passenger area, cargo area, and interior features. On the outside, it’s important to document the vehicle’s physical appearance as well as any special options (e.g. roof rack, running boards, and tow package).
Quality photos help demonstrate the vehicle, and also say something about the store. There is a reason Tiffany jewelry is not sold at Walmart. If the merchandise you stock is of a premium quality, and the service you provide is first rate, then it must be merchandised in a way that reflects those things. Today, this is true online and offline. Many stores are now erecting special facilities to control the light and provide great quality photos throughout the year.
Roughly 25% of shoppers are primarily auditory learners. They don’t learn from what they read or see as much as from what they hear. Many shoppers appreciate video demonstrations of the vehicle, but for auditory learners, it’s essential. Nothing beats a good video walk around. For those dealers who don’t have the manpower to quickly perform a video walk around for each used vehicle coming in and for every new vehicle trim, a high-quality stitched video is the way to go. These videos can be constructed from your still photos quickly and inexpensively. As with photos, the quality of the video tells the shopper something about your store and the kind of service they can expect.
Vehicle History Report (used vehicles)
A third-party Vehicle History Report (e.g. CARFAX, AutoCheck, and CarProof) provides credible information about the vehicle and lets the shopper know you are the kind of store that is transparent about the used vehicles you sell.
Vehicle Condition Report (used vehicles)
Many certified vehicles come with a Vehicle Condition Report (VCR). This provides the shopper a detailed list of what was inspected and the condition each item is in. A VCR can be performed on any car or truck with the Mobile Inspector app from cDemo. Those VCRs can be automatically included on the appropriate VDPs on sites supporting this integration.
Text Description and Features Lists
The features of the vehicle are typically downloaded onto the VDP through a VIN explosion. This information can be added to and explained in terms of benefits as well as features. There are a variety of tools and services to make this latter step easier or done for the dealership. Completing the process can require some effort, but explaining the benefits of the vehicle help the shopper know it’s the right car and yours is the right store. Most shoppers know what it’s like to walk into a store and know more about the vehicle than the person selling it. Good text descriptions help assure the shopper you know your product.
A PDF version of the owner’s manual is probably not something the shopper is going to read from cover to cover. However, it is comforting to some customers to know they can go through it at any time to find and verify information. The presence of the owner’s manual sends a positive store about the store’s service level, product knowledge, and willingness to be transparent.
A downloadable version of the manufacturer’s brochure should also be made available to the shopper. Most vehicles are not purchased by an individual; they are purchased by two or more decision makers or a decision maker and a strong influencer. Downloadable brochures are a way of storing, transporting, and sharing credible information about the vehicle.
Often overlooked is the value of providing relevant testimonials from people who have purchased similar vehicles. Most sites include a testimonials section, but including relevant testimonials on each vehicle’s VDP can be extremely valuable.
Calls to Action
As critical as anything on the VDP are the various calls to action. The shopper should be invited to phone the store, chat or text with the store, or drive to the store unannounced. Maps, directions, and the address should be provided, as well as ways of sending information to others, to the shopper’s mobile phone, or to a printer. The store’s hours should be included.
Leading sites include a multitude of ways the shopper can submit an email lead. Two of the most popular are to get the e-price or to confirm availability of the vehicle. Other popular forms include financing pre-approval, trade-in evaluation, requesting a quote, or requesting other information.
Dealer groups often list vehicles from other stores on their websites. Showing the shopper the address where the vehicle is located can provide additional confidence and time savings.
Awards and Accolades
Letting the shopper know you have other similar vehicles in inventory builds confidence that a trip to the store will not be in vain.
Properly done, the way the dealer’s pricing is delivered demonstrates value. Many dealers are showing but lining out what the price was, the MSRP, or a book value, then showing one or more discounts and/or rebates, and the offer price. Used vehicles can include the original MSRP and the market price. The offer price can be listed as the true price, our price, discounted price, or internet price, as well as showing a payment and/or lease rate.
Disclaimers and Legal information
Staying in compliance is more important than ever. Disclaimers and legal information should be displayed clearly on the VDP.
A new feature offered by Dealer eProcess is the inclusion of marketing packages (e.g. cold weather package, towing package, and sports package). Each package included on the vehicle is described in detail. Some shoppers want to know all the elements of the package. For some, a particular package is often a must-have item.
Prominently displaying and detailing these packages shows how the vehicle differs from others of the same model or trim. Including the value of each marketing package immediately justifies any the premium in the overall price.
Leading sites provide interior and exterior 360-degree views, safety information, safety ratings, fuel performance ratings, environmental ratings and comparisons, and information about the store and its policies. Almost no one will consume all the information provided by the best performing websites, but having it available and easy to scan through helps meet the shopper’s information needs about the vehicle and builds a sense of trust that the most forthcoming store is both knowledgeable and trustworthy.
The Need for Speed and Automation
Dealers need to move their inventory fast. Ideally, all the dealer will need to add are the photos and a short blurb about the vehicle. The video can be made from the photos, and everything else can be fed in instantly and automatically. The ideal VDP is not the one you could theoretically have; it’s the one you can instantly have that will fully merchandise your vehicle online.