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From NCM’s 20 Groups: 10 Virtual Showroom Merchandising Tips to Maximize Sales


I’m sometimes shocked at how badly online listings for pre-owned vehicles are! The information provided is terrible, and the photos are even worse. Clearly, online listings are just an afterthought for far too many used vehicle departments.

Online listings sell your vehicles

Ignoring online listings is a huge mistake. Far too much evidence has amassed for there to be any confusion: Your customers are shopping online long before they ever step foot in a store.

If you still question this, I recommend reading this excellent case study from Think with Google right now that details the mobile and online car purchasing process. If you’re short on time, here’s an infographic from the article that sums it up nicely:


Demand Accountability Online

If you’re an NCM 20 Group member, you already know that accountability management is crucial for changing processes. After all, success is dependent on execution. Before you make any shifts in the used vehicle department, I want you to identify the following items:

  1. Who is responsible for each item?
  2. How should it happen? (Process)
  3. What are your expected results?
  4. Do you measure the activities and results?

Top 10 Virtual Merchandising Tips from My 20 Groups

Now onto the specifics. Here are the recommended merchandising changes that have come out of my NCM 20 Group meetings.

  1. Recognize that your virtual showroom is open 24/7 and should be merchandised as well as your physical inventory. (Remember: Customers will shop your inventory online long before coming into your store.)
  2. Create and implement a vehicle photography process for your digital showroom.
  3. As part of that process, mandate that someone immediately review uploaded photography on your website and on all web services to which you subscribe. You want to make sure that the photos look good and clearly promote the most important features of your vehicles.
  4. Establish a dedicated, properly lit photo area that is free of clutter to take your photos and videos in; consider a turntable for use in this area.
  5. Hire a professional photographer to train the staff members who will be responsible for photographing the vehicles.
  6. Upload stock photos as soon as the vehicle is traded-in/purchased or immediately following the Trade-Walk.
  7. Once the vehicle is reconditioned, produce at least 25 high-resolution photos and at least one video.
  8. Highlight high-value visible options, such as a sunroof, navigation system or optional wheels. Set up the photo array so that these immediately follow the first passenger side ¾-front-profile photo currently in use.
  9. While you should always show vehicle equipment accurately, consider using Photoshop or similar editing software to accen­tuate “focus” vehicles.
  10.  Remember that the process doesn’t end! Continuously review the uploaded photos on all inventory sites your dealership uses.

Lee offers consulting services and is a moderator in many NCM 20 Groups. Membership not only gives you access to our monthly composite and industry-leading but lets you work with other successful peers to brainstorm solutions to the specific problems you face in your dealership. We’re currently accepting applicants to many 20 Groups—including Independent 20 Groups. Discover which NCM 20 Groups is the perfect one for you and sign up to attend a meeting! 

About the author

Lee Michaelson

Lee Michaelson

Lee is an experienced and knowledgeable automotive retail specialist, with demonstrated expertise in both variable and fixed operations and a proven record of success in operations management and profit improvement. Of keen value is Lee’s comprehensive understanding of the total dealership operation, giving him a unique, 360-degree perspective into all areas of the dealership. He is a strategic problem-solver and successful change agent, working in concert with the dealer and management team to identify, recommend and implement profit-enhancing strategies that produce consistent results beyond expectations. Lee supports all domestic, import and high-line dealers with a wide variety of new and used sales volumes.

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