Why honest vehicle descriptions matter in vehicle retail

The digital space has become a key component of capturing consumer attention in automotive retail.

Initially slow to adopt digital technologies, recent years have seen the market introduce new technologies at a rate unseen in decades prior.

In the not-too-distant past, the only way to get a true understanding of a used car you were buying was to visit the forecourt or showroom and take a physical look.

As the internet took hold, dealers started to upload information about their vehicles to their websites, some only highlighting the most favourable attributes, which created distrust in consumers' minds.

In this post, we’ll discuss the surge in digitisation seen throughout the industry, and take a look at how retailers need to position and showcase their products online to meet modern customer expectations.


What part do vehicle descriptions play in the modern buying journey?

Your website is where consumers find information about your products, and where over 90% of modern vehicle-buying journeys begin.

Whilst a percentage of consumers who land on your website are still very likely to transition into the showroom, something we highlighted in our recent white paper, many will turn away from a dealership for what, in the physical world, would be a small inconvenience.

Online, consumers make decisions in seconds not minutes, so having the right copy, the right information and the right images are essential to converting website visitors into viable sales leads.

As more and more of the vehicle buying journey moves online, from how consumers arrange their auto finance, to how they schedule reservations and test drives, having clear and transparent descriptions of the vehicles on offer can be a major determining factor in how many users will progress the buying journey.

Having clear and detailed descriptions builds trust between the dealer and customer, as well as heading off any potential issues in the future when the customer sees the vehicle in person.


Why are honest vehicle descriptions so important?

Candid online descriptions for used vehicles are nothing new. They’ve been used to great effect by online-first used vehicle retailers, whose ‘warts and all’ descriptions have been a success with consumers, and have helped establish them as trustworthy brands.

We spoke to Rob Severs, our Senior VP of Product and Insight, about how a change to the norm is necessary for the near-future of vehicle retail.

Rob said: “It’s really about a shift in culture. Established dealers tend to emphasise the good points of a vehicle while minimising the not-so-good. That mindset probably dates back to when customers would first encounter the car on the forecourt, so would be able to see any issues for themselves. 

“However, in 2022, almost all customers will see the car or van for the first time online. This places a massive onus on the accuracy and depth of the online vehicle description in terms of them making a decision about whether to take the purchasing process forward. It’s not just a question of providing very high-quality images, but pointing out any issues and including as much written information as possible.

“For the digital disruptors, this is essential. They don’t want a customer to reject a vehicle on delivery because any issues were glossed over online. It’s a question of being as transparent as possible – and all dealers should aim to do the same.”

As consumers shift more of their attention to the digital retail space, the importance of honest product descriptions will begin to play a pivotal role in the sale of used vehicles.

Nobody likes the feeling of being misled, and as vehicles are the second-largest purchase in most people’s lives, it’s important to keep descriptions clear and truthful to ensure yours is the showroom customers decide to walk into.


How to keep your descriptions consistent

Our platform sits in a central position for many of our retail partners, and we’re always looking for ways to make it do more for the people who use it.

We’ve recently taken interest in the issue of vehicle descriptions, and how to make the process of managing them as easy as possible.

As part of our efforts, we’ve introduced some significant improvements to our Connected Retailing platform. 

We’ll be rolling out an update to anyone using our built-in Stock Engine to manage their vehicle inventory.

The new update adds our new Stock Upload tool, which gives dealers additional tools to help manage their showroom activity and inventory. 

“Rob added: “We wanted to try to bring something new and have worked hard at helping dealers ensure the data they are including within the vehicle description is comprehensive. For example, when they enter the registration plate for a car or van, we can automatically generate information such as its original list price and options.

“The stock upload facility also prompts for vehicle faults to be clearly imaged and described. We are seeing a lot of evidence that it is an essential element of building trust.”

Rob added that dealers using an existing stock upload tool included in another system could export the data into the iVendi Platform to make use of these features.

“We’re currently trialling the stock upload feature with a number of dealers and are expected to launch it fully in June. So far, the response we have been receiving has been extremely positive.”


What does this mean for dealerships using the iVendi platform?

The new stock upload tool we’ve added to our Stock Engine means dealers will have additional opportunities to add consumer critical information to the vehicle descriptions on their websites.

Having a single system to manage all the steps involved also means the process stays simple and straightforward.