Vehicle merchandising: the act of presenting the unique features, appearance, and price of your vehicle in a way that attracts customers. While it is normally thought of as an on-the-lot tactic, merchandising is even more essential online.
Good online merchandising can mean the difference between an online shopper paying a visit to your showroom, or paying a visit to your competitor’s. But what exactly does good online dealership merchandising look like? To answer that, we have to take a look at the underlying psychology that makes some vehicle merchandising so effective.
Car buying is driven by many factors, but emotion is undeniably the most influential.
You know this.
You’ve seen smiles and tears and everything in between when it comes to dealing with people and their cars. It’s one of the major strengths of a car dealership: your product is deeply rooted in the American soul. Once a car shopper forms an emotional connection with a particular vehicle, their chances of buying it increase astronomically.
The problem is, outside the realm of test drives and flashy ads, it’s hard to work emotion into that hunk of metal. That’s where good online vehicle merchandising comes in.
Online vehicle merchandising can help forge an emotional connection between a customer and a specific vehicle on your lot. If done right, these shoppers will step onto your lot with their hearts already set on buying that car. Below, we’ll demonstrate a few ways that good vehicle merchandising helps shoppers fall in love with one of your vehicles.
1. Visualization Spurs Imagination
Great vehicle merchandising begins with great presentation. It can be hard to imagine buying the perfect car, but having pictures and video on your VDP means that your customers don’t have to imagine. They can see it with their own eyes. Flipping through pictures of a specific car – as opposed to a stock image – lets them imagine that car in their life, which creates the emotional connection that ultimately brings them in to your dealership.
Take Emily and Jose for example. Their family is growing and they need a bigger car. But they don’t just want a car that is big enough; they want a car that fits into their dreams for their family. They want to look at a picture of the back seats and be able to visualize a horde of sand-covered kids dozing on their way back from the beach, or smiling in mud-covered soccer uniforms, or dressed up with big containers of Thanksgiving leftovers on their laps. It’s the vehicle pages with videos and pictures that will capture their imagination and help them picture these scenes taking place in a car that’s on your lot.
2. Telling a Car’s Story
We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, but those words are pretty important too. For some, emotion doesn’t come from a picture of a cup holder, but from the story of the car. Seller comments and features lists tell the story behind the shining metal and chrome. Adding this to your Vehicle Detail Pages ensures that the visitors to your website know the story of the car they are interested in, an emotional investment that will form a connection between your customer and that specific vehicle.
Marcus is one of these customers. He has a powerful nostalgia for the good old days when he and his brother used to drive around at night, listening to music and talking. Even on cold nights, the car’s seat-warmers kept them perfectly warm. When Marcus sees the words “heated seats” in your vehicles seller comments and personalized features list, it is an immediate and emotional connection to what he wants and why he wants it. With this easy step, you’ve just forged a bond between a customer and a car.
3. Pricing and Incentives
Even if you’ve built out your VDPs to connect on an emotional level, you might be losing customers because you’ve skipped the easiest merchandising step: adding price and financial incentives. Displaying a vehicles price and any regional incentives that apply to it not only grounds the car firmly in a customer’s mind, but demonstrates your trustworthiness and dependability as a dealer. By being up front with your prices and clearly labeling which incentives apply to which cars, you are building your own dealership’s image.
Jack has driven the same type of car all his life. Ford F-150. He knows what car he wants, now he wants to know the dealers he goes to will be as reliable and true as the cars they sell. When he goes online to look for a new truck, the vehicles that Jack wants to see are ones that have a clear price. What impresses him even more are regional incentives, right there on the vehicle page. Now he can come to the dealer that provides this, with a perfect truck and price in mind, and be confident that the incentive will apply to the truck he’s already fallen in love with.
Merchandising your VDP is one of the rare times you can make a simple change to your website and immediately see the results of it. By adding emotional anchors like features, pictures, and price where there used to be none, you are providing customers with information that helps build their relationship, not only with the car, but also with your dealership. It’s easy to think of emotion as a weakness, but in this case, it might just be one of your most effective tools.