When sellers began offering actual automobiles in eBay's Model Car category, eBay added a new category: eBay Motors. That was in 2000. And today, eBay Motors is the No. 1 automotive site on the internet, with more than 10 million unique visitors per month.
"Consumers spend an incredible amount of time on eBay Motors," says Rob Chesney, senior director of vehicles for eBay Motors. "Of all the time spent doing anything automotive on the web, 40 percent of those minutes are spent on eBay Motors." And most of that time is spent doing business, as evidenced by the fact that an automobile sells on eBay Motors every single minute. In 2004, eBay Motors delivered $6.2 billion in world-wide gross merchandise volume.
eBay Motors has some specific benefits for both buyers and sellers. Buyers get more information about vehicles than they could obtain from venues such as dealer lots and newspaper ads. "We make it easy for buyers to find any vehicle they want, and to look for features such as mileage, year, and ultimately, price," Chesney says. In addition, eBay provides numerous services and features to support every step of the automobile buying process, including vehicle history reports, purchase protection, access to inspections and even financing.
Sellers can tap a national marketplace at a low cost. For a fee of $40 to list and another $40 when the sale is complete, vehicle sellers once limited to local markets can present their wares to a global audience of millions. Compare that to the $400 to $500 it costs to advertise and merchandise a vehicle using conventional means, and the economics become compelling. "We also offer unique transactional aspects on the site," Chesney says. Indeed, eBay Motors is far from just an advertising vehicle. It's more like a seller's toolbox, with communications channels to reach buyers, seller education and training, and a galaxy of services to ease the entire process.
Expanding Your Dealership With eBay Motors
Speed is one big reason eBay Motors is an effective way for an automobile dealership to grow its business. "We end up giving [dealers] access to buyers outside their typical local markets and who are much further [along in] the buying process," Chesney says.
Sellers who do best on eBay Motors take extra steps to make the most of the channel. Perhaps the first step is to make sure you have a distinctive presence. One way to do this is to create a niche. Spe-cializing in one vehicle type helps you master pricing, supply and other features of a given niche. Specialists are better at sourcing, pricing and merchandising the right product the right way.
Generally, the right vehicles for eBay Motors include aged inventory that would otherwise be sold at auction or to a wholesaler. Another winner: vehicles that don't sell well in your region or climate, but are hot properties elsewhere. For instance, vehicles from the Southwestern states such as Arizona will be popular with buyers in states like Minnesota because the vehicles will not have endured tough winters, which bring about rust problems. Discontinued models, high-performance vehicles and ones with strong fan followings are also good choices. For hard-to-find cars, such as fuel-saving hybrids and diesel pickups, eBay Motors is a natural fit.
Cement your ownership of the niche by creating an "About Me" page. Describe your business and its history on eBay Motors. Give prominent placement to feedback and ratings. Link to related services and sites, such as your dealership's website.
Consider hiring an employee dedicated full time to eBay Motors. Having an internet sales manager increases the likelihood you'll pick the right vehicles, list them well, price them well, communicate effectively with bidders and complete sales in a satisfactory manner.
Vehicle listings are the linchpins of eBay Motors. Before listing, spend time researching the vehicle and thinking about how you'll present it. Study similar listings, visit manufacturer websites, and read automotive reviews. In addition to basics such as make, model, year and mileage, study up on engines, transmissions, air conditioning, power windows, leather seats, stereo systems and other features.
If you don't illustrate each listing with a dozen or more photos, you're probably not giving buyers as much information as they'd like. Also, be extra-sure to provide clear pictures of any damage or excessive wear. Include shots of the front, back and both sides. When photographing the exterior of the vehicle, think of the buyer first approaching the vehicle and taking in its overall appearance and style. It's important to provide a full exterior view so the buyer can have a complete perspective of the vehicle.
With your interior photography, document all the important details that the customer will find inside the vehicle. Take close-ups of the odometer, interior, dashboard, trunk and engine.
Bolding, highlighting and other listing features draw attention, drive more bids and generate higher sales prices. eBay Motors will automatically populate the listing title based on the vehicle information. The seller can use the subtitle to highlight specific features of the vehicle or applicable terms that sellers may be searching for on eBay Motors.
The next step is managing your listings. Monitor your listings at least daily. Respond to bidders in a timely manner, and promptly answer any questions from all visitors. Don't just talk to bidders-check them out by looking at their feedback. Feedback ratings can make or break a dealer's eBay Motors reputation.
Closing the Sale
eBay Motors does much of the heavy lifting when it comes to closing the sale. Still, a considerable amount is left up to the individual dealer. To begin with, sellers who do a specified number of vehicle sales may have to be licensed as dealers by their state. Check with your state department of motor vehicles to find out whether you will be required to obtain a dealer's license.
Before closing, sellers must clearly specify any fees or taxes buyers will have to pay. State a reasonable time for deposits or full payment to be received-eBay Motors gives buyers at least three days for this process. Close price-sensitive buyers with the help of Best Offer. This feature lets you negotiate online.