Technology is growing into the remarketing arena, but there’s still a place for the traditional auction hall.
As all elements of our lives become more entwined with technology, the buying and selling of ex-fleet cars is no different. With the increasing rise in online purchasing, auction firms have moved to make the process as integrated as possible; a blended approach that means buyers in auction halls can bid against those anywhere in the world staring at mobile, tablet or computer.
Technological and procedural improvements have dovetailed with increased confidence to buy online, with the Vehicle Remarketing Association quoting figures of up to 70% of manufacturer sales and 25-30% of fleet and leasing sales penetration being online purchases.
“The factors that have really powered growth in online sales have been consistency in the grading system, improvements in vehicle provenance and in technology that improves the customer experience,” says VRA board member Tim Hudson of Cox Automotive.
“The winners in this area are using cutting-edge technology, high-definition imagery to show vehicles in the best possible way, as well as providing better vehicle descriptions including mechanical information.”
However, Hudson also says there is still very much a future for physical auctions. “Especially in terms of the breadth, volume and choice of vehicles available, for both buyers and sellers,” he comments. “Importantly, you can also get a feel for the state of the market, meet and network with colleagues and arguably gain a better snapshot of current market dynamics.”
It’s not just the actual purchasing where technology is important. Better analysis of data is also allowing targeted refurbishment policies.
“There has been a trend towards tactical vehicle refurbishment,” says the VRA’s Tim Hudson (pictured).
“This requires an in-depth understanding of the data, especially knowing the relative values that you’ll achieve from moving vehicles across grades.
“Greater availability of information on refurbishment, including its impact in different channels, is gradually replacing the old ‘gut feel’ approach.”
PEACE OF MIND WHEN BUYING ONLINE
While we’re all used to Amazon or Ebay purchases, it’s taken a little longer to build confidence in buying high-price used items like cars without actually seeing them.
But remarketing companies have worked hard to give as much assurance as possible to those buying via the click of a button rather than the wave of a hand.
“Imaging and appraisal technology provides buyers with a consistent description of a vehicle’s condition, and BCA Assured provides buyers with an added confidence to bid through an independent mechanical report conducted by the AA,” says BCA’s UK remarketing managing director Stuart Pearson.
He also points out that the vehicle search capability “provides buyers with access to thousands of vehicles via a few keystrokes, and Dealer Pro ensures that vehicles are pushed to the market often in advance of them arriving at a physical auction”.
LINING UP ONLINE SALES
BCA Remarketing UK MD Stuart Pearson’s on how fleets should view selling in an increasingly online world.
1. Internet interest is rising
There has been a significant uplift in online buying activity throughout 2017 and we have seen a move to more mobile usage to browse stock online. BCA data shows that 44% of searches for stock are now from mobile devices. More than 27% of users used smartphones, and 17% used tablets when sourcing vehicles from online stock searches.
2. Sellers benefit as much as buyers
Online bidding is a well-established element of the remarketing mix, and potentially generates a wider buying base for every vehicle, increasing competition and the possible returns to the sellers’ bottom line. Digital platforms support values by bringing the largest possible audience for every vehicle when used alongside physical selling channels.
3. Prep for performance, no matter who the buyer
Accurate appraisals and sensible valuation are critical to success, whether the vehicle is sold to a physical buyer in the auction lane or a remote bidder online. Pre-sale, professional buyers want detailed descriptions, including any damage the vehicle may be carrying, good-quality digital images so they can assess the condition and access to a full service history. Post-sale they want the vehicles delivered swiftly and as described.
4. Blending is best
The continued growth of the remarketing sector reflects a blended approach, where buyers can choose the platform that suits their needs the best. The growth of digital sales is supported by an on-going expansion and investment in the infrastructure of BCA’s physical auction network that benefits all buyers.
5. Don’t presume online is the only way
Overwhelmingly, the majority of buyers still prefer to see vehicles ‘in the metal’ when they bid, which is why the physical auction network remains important for the used vehicle industry.