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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Selling Vehicles on eBay

I recently read a press release that eBay just had their 2 millionth successful auction, again connecting an automotive buyer with a dealership. Considering neither the buyer or the seller would have normally even known about each other, this is yet another piece of evidence of where the industry is headed. 2 million vehicles sold is a powerful number. Add in the millions each year sold by the other big players like Autotrader.com, Cars.com, etc. and you just can't ignore the internet. I talk to several dealers every day who are anti-internet. Call them traditionalists. Magazines and newspapers aren't going away, although they are losing marketshare at a fast pace. These traditional dealers who haven't embraced the internet will continue to sell cars as well, but the question in my mind is not "if" they start migrating online, but "when" they will. If any dealer plans on being successful beyond the next few years, I'd say they should start thinking about buying a computer. There are internet sites for different types of sales. Some major differences you should know about:

eBay says it themselves on their site. It's meant to be a wholesale marketplace. They recommend using their site for vehicles that a dealer would normally take to auction or wholesale. With the few cars I've sold through eBay I've noticed that most of the people are looking for a deal and do not want to pay retail for the vehicles. Some cars I've still managed to make money on, while others I've taken quite a hit. I recommend following eBay's own recommendations, because when you put a car up for auction, it's a legally binding contract and you have to sell it once it hits your reserve.

Autotrader.com and Cars.com are more retail-oriented. On these sites you can expect customers who are willing to pay retail for your vehicles. There is more opportunity to practice your traditional car-dealer tactics....sales and negotiation...whereas auction sites are more of a "put it up, let the car sell itself, and get what you can get" type mentality.

The bottom line is that there are sites out there for your vehicles, however you want to sell them. Move them quick for wholesale or hang onto them a little longer for more money. Each site has its own style, traffic numbers, and ultimately sales. Prior to trying any out, make sure you talk with some other dealers to see what seems to work best for the type of vehicles you have and your particular area. The biggest complaint I do hear from dealers that use heavy online advertising is that they are required to enter the same vehicles on multiple sites. If you have a website provider for your dealership it's worthwhile to ask about inventory feeds. This will eliminate double and triple-entry, and save you a lot of time.

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