About 225 GM dealerships located in California have teamed up with online auction site, eBay, in a month-long experiment. The innovative approach to selling comes as the automaker emerges from bankruptcy and searches for new ways to compete in the increasingly fractured automotive marketplace.
Preliminary sales figures will not be made public until the test concludes on September 8. However, on Wednesday, GM officials said that participating dealers received 2,400 offers through eBay during the first week of the test. The automaker is considering expanding the program nationwide if the pilot program proves successful.
In the world of online sales, there are no personable salespeople to close the deal. Instead, online marketers must rely on images with compelling captions and simple, easy to read text to persuade buyers.
According to “power sellers”, who gained that designation by generating at least $1,000 in sales per month on eBay, another vital component of successful online marketing is being responsive to email messages sent by prospective buyers.
Brad Schepp is the co-author of eBay PowerSeller Secrets. He says, “The most successful sellers create great listings, with clear, concise titles and lots of quality pictures.”
According to many experts in the field of eBay selling, online buyers have typically done their homework and are searching for deals by the time they begin looking at listings on ecommerce sites like eBay.
Schepp also claims that eBay shoppers are, “suspicious by nature, and some will test a seller by sending messages to gauge response time, friendliness, eagerness and willingness to bargain.”
Debbie Imlay is a powerseller who generates about $100,000 in sales through eBay annually. Imlay says that providing quick responses to email inquiries is a vital part of conducting business on eBay. She says that GM dealers need to respond to phone calls and emails from potential buyers within an hour or two. If nothing else, she says this simple act reassures the buyer that their inquiry hasn’t fallen through the cracks. “It says, ‘I’m here and I value your business. It gives your business a personal touch,”
Imlay, who teaches a class on eBay selling, contends that online buyers want to feel that they are in control of the purchasing process. Their aversion to persistent salespeople, she claims, is why they’re shopping online.
According to eBay’s manager of auto dealer training, Clayton Stanfield, selling vehicles online isn’t a complicated proposition. He says that dealers should provide prospective buyers with a “virtual test-drive”. He recommends including between 20 and 30 pictures of each vehicle.
He also recommends using pictures of the actual car or truck being sold instead of stock images. Stanfield claims that customers are less likely to click on stock photos. Using pictures of the actual vehicle for sale creates an emotional connection between the buyer and the vehicle.
He contends that online buyers know what they’re looking for. . “As a dealer,” he says, “your responsibility is to show them that car. Bring it to life through the pictures.”
Another way online sellers build trust with prospective buyers is by including customer comments and reviews.
Nicole Easton is the internet director for Foothill Ranch Chevrolet in Southern California. She began selling inventory on eBay over a year ago but claims that it wasn’t until customers began posting positive comments that the site really began generating sales.
Easton says that Foothill Ranch Chevrolet has seen a 20% increase in sales since the launch of the GM-eBay test program. “We haven’t been this busy in a long time,” she says.