Cars have traditionally been sold from dealer forecourts for decades, but with customers increasingly choosing to purchase online, an online dealership offers several advantages. You can still run a traditional dealership but allowing customers to buy online means you can target a much bigger geographical area.
Financing and Licensing
Work out how much money you need to get the business off the ground. Selling primarily online should be cheaper than establishing a brick-and-mortar dealership. Check whether you need a license to operate in your state/country.
Even if you exclusively market your vehicles online, you will need somewhere to store them before they are delivered to the customer. Storage should be secure, with a fenced perimeter and sturdy gate, CCTV, and in the case of prestige vehicles, it is sensible to rent a warehouse/garage or weatherproof building. This ensures your inventory is kept safe before being sold.
To attract customers, you will need to work on building an online brand. There are approximately 1.18 billion websites online, so don’t assume people searching for a new car will stumble over your site. Unless you build a search engine-friendly site, they probably won’t.
The topic of SEO could easily run to several articles, so we’re not going to cover it in detail here. Suffice to say that SEO is important, and it is worth using a professional SEO agency to make sure your site is optimized for search engines.
As well as making your dealership’s website SEO friendly, put together a marketing strategy. Build a social media presence. Work on content marketing. Build a list of people who might become customers. If you decide to target a specific niche in the market, such as very cheap junkers, prestige cars, or European models, work out who your customer is and figure out how to attract their attention.
New Vs. Used
If you plan to sell new vehicles, you will need to form a business arrangement with a manufacturer. Selling used vehicles is easier – all you need to do is find suitable vehicles in demand at the right price. Once you get established, you will probably end up with an inventory of vehicles customers have sold on to you in part exchange for a newer vehicle.
Running any business generates a lot of admin, from paperwork and taxes to handling payments from customers. Get a handle on this from day one, or it won’t be long before you are in serious trouble.
Other Areas to Consider
Selling cars online means vehicles will have to be delivered to the customer or collected if you are buying rather than selling a car. Work with an auto delivery transport service so it is a seamless process, but make sure you are covered by auto transport insurance, as explained by Acertus.
Repairs and servicing are something else you’ll need to think about, as some vehicles may need maintenance and repairs before they can be sold.
Selling cars online is a great business to get into these days. Plenty of customers are happy buying a car virtually and don’t need to organize a test drive. Since all the paperwork can be handled electronically, it’s a win-win for everyone.