New Initiative Connects Used-Car Sellers to Dealer Buyers

Sell&Trade is one of two new offerings from Cars.com. The other allows dealers to track lot traffic.

Alysha Webb, Contributor

May 3, 2016

3 Min Read
Carscomrsquos Lot Insights tracks traffic at dealership lots
Cars.com’s Lot Insights tracks traffic at dealership lots.

For years consumers have been using Cars.com to sell their used cars to another consumer. Now, they have another choice – selling directly to the dealer. 

Sell&Trade gives consumers another sales option and gives dealers another source of used vehicles, says Joe Oliveri, Cars.com’s director-product management. He calls it a consumer-to-dealer business model.”

It is one of two new offerings from Cars.com, an online automotive marketplace. The other tracks shoppers’ dealership lot visits via their mobile phones.

To use Sell&Trade, a consumer goes to the Cars.com website or uses the Quick Offer mobile app and fills out a 5-page information form about the used vehicle. About half of the consumer traffic has come from the mobile app, Oliveri tells WardsAuto.

That information – including the vehicle identification number, photos, detailed mechanical information and any damage – goes out to up to four dealers in the area that are program clients.

Dealers have nine business hour to bid on the car online. The seller receives emails with the bid information. Sellers have up to three days to accept an offer, which is not binding and is subject to a vehicle inspection.

If the consumer accepts a bid, he or she takes the car to the dealership. “Typically the dealer will write a check right there,” says Oliveri.

Dealers pay an $800 to $1,000 monthly subscription fee, determined by market size.

Some 200 dealers around the U.S. in markets such as Atlanta, New York and cities in California have been testing the program.

The number of used vehicles purchased using Sell&Trade depends on how aggressive a dealer is, says Oliveri.  “One dealer bought 19 in six weeks.” 

Dealerships long have purchased used cars directly from consumers, but in its research Cars.com found only one in three consumers had considered selling their used car directly to a dealer and only one in seven actually did.

“This is a new avenue for dealers to get used cars,” he says.

Cars.com also has launched Lot Insights Report. It allows dealers to follow car shoppers in their visits to the dealer’s lot and that of nearby dealerships.  

“We have mapped almost 20,000 lots,” Jeni Pecard, Cars.com’s manager-site analytics & product insights, tells WardsAuto.

Dealers log into a portal to view the reports, which are free to Cars.com users and show lot traffic in aggregate numbers, not by identified persons.

When a consumer accesses Cars.com and answers “yes” to a location prompt, Cars.com can follow that consumer’s shopping path. Around half of Cars.com users allow the tracking, says Pecard.

It shows what lots a consumer has visited, what cars they actually looked at, and what they were doing online before the lot visits.  

By analyzing what consumers were doing online before going car shopping, dealers can see more clearly what leads to a lot visit.

“We want to understand how digital marketing is driving them,” says Pecard.

Dealers can use that knowledge to better allocate advertising dollars.  

For example, if dealers see consumers are shopping at dealerships outside of the immediate area, “they won’t have that ‘just-advertise-in-my-backyard’ mentality,” Pecard says. 

About the Author(s)

Alysha Webb

Contributor

Based in Los Angeles, Alysha Webb has written about myriad aspects of the automotive industry for more than than two decades, including automotive retail, manufacturing, suppliers, and electric vehicles. She began her automotive journalism career in China and wrote reports for Wards Intelligence on China's electric vehicle future and China's autonomous vehicle future. 

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