Sorry for the lack of postings and comments over the last week. I was in NYC for a few days attending the Mercedes-Benz Internet Marketing Dealer Advisory Committee.
It is an honor and interesting committee to be apart of. It’s made up of about 10 dealers, most of which are GM’s and/or owners with only a few actual Internet / BDC managers. We also have several people from Mercedes-Benz corporate; Justin Colon and Inigo Mazquiaran (head of Internet Marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA), several regional marketing managers, a few guys from the IT department along with Bill Hunt and Mabel Estrella from Critical Mass.
The topics of conversation gets interesting, especially when you have such a mix of younger and older thinking in the same room. It’s common to hear the old school voice their opinions about many of the subjects like; dealer search on the MBUSA website, new vehicle display on your dealer websites and SEO/SEM guidelines, just to name a few.
The best part of this committee meeting is that it gives me plenty of topics to blog about.
One topic of heated conversation was the displaying of new car inventory on your website. Many of the dealers on the committee are against showing their actual new car inventory on their website. I understand why; we can usually get whatever the consumer wants even if we do not have it in stock. However, the average consumer is looking for instant gratification and dealers risk loosing one of “our customers” to the dealer that has the car in stock.
So what is the answer? Do you display new car inventory or not?
The latest statistic according to Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research shows that consumers want to see dealers list their new vehicle inventory online. Well of course they do!! They want instant gratification AND if you are not already aware, my generation and this upcoming generation are NOT loyal to anyone!! So if you don’t have the car…we will go the dealer that does.
Is there a way around this while also serving today’s consumer?
What about “virtual inventory”?
Does a vehicle configurator fill this void?
I thought I knew the answer to this but now I’m not sure. Since I’m a smaller store and I go up against some really big dogs less then 50 minutes away, I use an inventory tool (shameless plug for Homenet IOL here) that allows me to “lock inventory”, building my own virtual inventory. I sometimes lock a car as in-stock if I know I have another vehicle like it in transit from the port. This allow me to get my inventory in front of the consumers before it hits the showroom floor, while also allowing me to have a larger selection of vehicles to display.
If you are reading this again, you will notice that I have made a few changes and deletions to the last few paragraphs. After reading it for myself several times, I can see where a few readers are coming from with their comments. I have also given some deep thought into the practice of locking particular vehicles in stock and concluded maybe some of my readers are right. I’ve thought long and hard about this and somehow I took 2 steps backwards and maybe became a product of that “old school” dealer mentality; something that I’m not an advocate of. I want to thank DealerRefresh readers for their opinions and feedback but mostly for bringing me back to reality!