Online inventory checkup

I am an avid online researcher and shopper. I typically will not step foot into a store to make a major purchase without clicking away on my keyboard or swiping through my iPhone. As such, one of my biggest pet peeves as a “have it now” Millennial is not finding exactly what I saw online in the physical store.

I’m not alone, according to a 2013 GE Capital Retail Study, a whopping 81 percent of shoppers research major purchases, including boats, online before they ever come into a store.

That’s why it is crucial for every piece of stock that is on your showroom floor or in your yard to be fully represented on your website and third-party sales channels. If not, you’re missing a major opportunity to drive the leads that drive your business.

What information do you think is important to shoppers? If you’re anything like 63 percent of the automotive dealers surveyed by Cobalt – the digital marketing company, not the boat builder – the word “price” immediately popped into your head. But as customers begin to browse your inventory, the final price tag isn’t the first thing shoppers are looking for. The same Cobalt study revealed that 100 percent of auto shoppers chose to sort vehicles by color before filtering by any other attribute.

Now, I know that car shoppers and marine shoppers aren’t exactly the same thing, but I’d argue that boat shoppers are more aesthetically driven than the average mini-van shopper, wouldn’t you agree?

The final stat that I’m going to pull from Cobalt should drive you to immediately reach for your iPhone or Android and start snapping inventory photos of every single boat in your yard and showroom floor. Seventy percent of shoppers didn’t click through on vehicle listings that featured a stock photo instead of the model on the dealer floor.

While your OEM does a much better job of taking professional photos of the upcoming 2016 model lineup than you ever will, if you want your customers to imagine themselves jumping that first wake on their new MasterCraft NXT20 or relaxing in the summer sun on their new Harris Crowne 250, you need to show them that exact unit, so they can see every detail for themselves and make that critical decision to fill out a form requesting more information, a quote and the ultimate opportunity to buy from your dealership.

Now that you’ve made the right first impression with unique imagery, it’s time to win shoppers over with complete product details. Not only will accurately listing each and every unit help convert shoppers who already know your dealership, but all of this regularly updated , highly keyword rich content will help deliver new prospects to your virtual showroom directly from search engines.

Finally, take advantage of popular third-party sales channels. Manually posting each piece of inventory to Craigslist, eBay and other third-party sales channels can be daunting, but if you work with an industry website provider, you’ll want to talk to your rep about what content syndication tools are available to you so that this task becomes as simple as checking a box.

Justin Di Vilio is program manager and sales team lead for ARI’s marine and RV divisions.


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