ORLANDO, Fla., -- Cars.com presented the results of an in-depth analysis that measured the impact of internet merchandising on online shopping behavior. The study, presented at the national auto dealer convention over the weekend, found that cars advertised with multiple photos, descriptive sell copy and a competitive price generate greater consumer interest and response.
"In an increasingly competitive environment, dealers must give car buyers the complete picture," said Michael Page, Cars.com vice president of advertising products. "Stores that fully merchandise their inventory stand out from their competitors, connect with shoppers and position themselves to win more than their fair share of the deals."
Approximately 230,000 new and used vehicles listed on Cars.com between June 2008 and June 2009 were examined. The study found that quality merchandising played a large role in driving results, especially for pre-owned vehicles. Used cars with:
-- A competitive price received 191 percent more vehicle details page views and 263 percent more contacts. At the same time, vehicles priced competitively receive 79 percent more vehicle details page views and 136 rcent more contacts than vehicles priced 10 percent or higher than market average.
-- 11 or more pictures received 175 percent more vehicle details page views and 127 percent more contacts than listings without pictures.
-- Inventory- and dealership-level sell copy received 17 percent more contacts.
-- The manufacturer's certified used logo received 18 percent more vehicle detail page views and 34 percent more contacts.
The study also found a surprising disconnect between the results dealers want and actual merchandising practices. Among the analyzed vehicles:
-- 7 percent were listed without a price
-- 13 percent were listed without a photo.
-- 13 percent didn't have sell copy.
"Online success begins with making the car the star and offering greater transparency for the consumer," Page said. "As shoppers evaluate their options, they're drawn to listings and dealerships that allow them to take a virtual test drive, validate the vehicle's condition and help them make an informed decision."