Inventory Management, Merchandising, and Marketing: What's the Difference?

By: Arnold Denah   |   22 Nov 2022
Girl thinking at her laptop

Fun fact: more than half of all car purchases are used vehicles. It's true!

Used cars are often more affordable, are reliable, and come with excellent warranty options, making them a preferred choice for many drivers. But the fierce competition when marketing used cars is a common barrier among dealers, especially in today's digital age.

Your customers start shopping for their used (and new!) vehicles long before they arrive at your lot. Google estimates that before considering buying a car, people will spend up to 15 hours doing internet research. If you want your vehicles to be included in that research phase, your dealership website needs to be frequently updated with your used vehicle inventory and needs to include all of the information customers demand during the research phase. So how do you make your vehicles stand out and convince customers that your dealership is unique in a saturated market?

Well, the good news is we are here to help with just that! Our LiftKit Inventory Platform enables you to organize your fleet, quickly locate critical information about your new and used vehicles, and merchandise your lot online, while our FlexDealer Agency Services take care of all your digital marketing needs. But enough about us - let's learn more about Inventory Management, Merchandising, and Marketing - and how they can help you sell more cars.
 


What Exactly is Inventory Merchandising?

Let's start very quickly with Inventory Management, which is essentially a central location to deposit all of your vehicle inventory. This is where you'll manage the VINs, vehicle status, pricing, and other key information before your inventory goes anywhere else. Think of it as a library for your vehicles with its own organizational system.

In contrast, Inventory Merchandising is basically the way you show off your vehicles. Many dealers remember the pre-digital days when you would drive a Jeep up onto a set of rocks, put a flashy car on a spinning pedestal, stage a pickup truck towing an ATV, or put a big bow on top of the hood of a new car.

When we look at the way things are done in today's very digital world, we essentially want to do the same thing only now with the pictures and videos you're presenting to customers on your website and other locations where your inventory feed will be, like ads, for instance.

So when we say 'merchandising your inventory,' we mean things like:

  • Taking excellent photos and videos (and avoiding stock images and watermarks when possible)
  • Being creative with how you display your vehicles online
  • Enticing customers by ensuring you include all of the information shoppers are looking for
  • Optimizing your images and videos for paid ads and social media

Try to think of merchandising from the position of the customer: show the angles and photos they want to see, offer 360-degree videos, be transparent about damages, and tell a story through images: don't just say a particular vehicle can fit 3 car seats across the rear or tow a huge boat - show it!

A lot of thought and work goes into effective merchandising, so don't disrespect the process by minimalizing it. Having a team member on your side who can help you is a valuable asset, and many dealerships are now creating dedicated positions for this type of job. In the same way that you have trained technicians for your service department and trained salespeople for your showroom, in this day and age, you truly should also have a trained professional for your digital merchandising needs.

Inventory Merchandising, safe to say, is making your vehicles look good!


Now, What Is Inventory Marketing?

With that taken care of, it's safe to explain Inventory Marketing - simply what we do best here at FlexDealer! The current inventory shortfall cannot be disputed. Many dealers are operating with only a tiny portion of what they are accustomed to because of the global chip supply shortfall impacting the production of new cars and the fiercely heated used car market that is driving up prices. The good news is that customers are eager to complete the transaction and buy, buy, buy!

When inventory is scarce and occasionally includes less popular models, the challenge for dealers is to best direct customers toward their lots through marketing. It all boils down to showcasing what you already have, putting each vehicle forward in the best possible light, making sure potential buyers are seeing those vehicles at the most opportune times and keeping your dealership top of mind when it comes time to make a purchase decision.

Inventory Marketing isn't just creating ads (though that's a big part of it), but creating unique campaigns around the inventory that you have. So yes, marketing can look like paid ads on Facebook or Google through different feed-based options. But it can also look like making sure you're listed on third-party websites that do really well in your area, taking part in community initiatives to get more exposure, being active on social media, and so much more.

Marketing will be different for everybody depending on your geographic area, your demographic, and even your marketing budget. But one of the key marketing techniques we've found to make the most significant difference is speed to market. Getting your inventory in front of eager shoppers before your competition does matters, so the quicker you can merchandise and market your vehicles, the better.


Looking for Inventory Support? Partner With Flex!

We want our dealer partners to have the most seamless inventory management, merchandising, and marketing experience in the industry. Why? We want you to sell more cars, of course! We don't want you waiting around for two days for a price update, needing to delete a listing and start over when an employee makes an error, or missing out on a big sales weekend because you can't get your inventory added to your site, cleaned, and sent to your outgoing feeds in time.

Our LiftKit Inventory Platform has been built to solve common inventory problems dealers face, so they can quickly and easily get their vehicles in front of more customers ahead of the competition.

We'd love to show you a free demo, so please contact our team to learn more about how LiftKit Inventory is "lifting up" our dealer partners! You can click below to book a meeting online that works with your schedule.
 

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