5 VDP Best Practices to Boost Conversions

Sep 8, 2021
Erin Lomax, Cox Automotive VP Ops Consumer Marketplace

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

When you’re getting ready to list your cars both on third-party sites and your own website, stop. Take a step back and assess how you’re building your vehicle detail pages (VDP) and consider if it’s optimized for today’s customer experience. As consumers spend more and more of their shopping time on their sofas and visit fewer dealership lots, the quality of your VDPs and vehicle merchandising is increasingly important. 

Yes, VDPs are basic, but they’re basic for a reason. For most consumers, VDPs are their first touch point with a vehicle. They’re looking at and comparing descriptions, pictures and prices with other vehicles (aka your competitors). An informative, accurate and appealing VDP is your opportunity to make a positive customer connection and drive consideration of your vehicles — and it can be your competitive advantage.  

Especially as more dealers are expanding inventory reach beyond your immediate market and DMA, your vehicle detail page (VDP) can make or break you. Optimize your digital curb appeal today and make your for-sale vehicles as attractive to customers as possible with these five VDP best practices. Make sure you’re checking the boxes on this basic but critical component of online car shopping.  

VDP Merchandising 101 for 2021: How to Create a Great Listing 

  1. Include many custom photos. Again, this is basic but essential. Include high-quality and clear photos of the exterior and interior of the car. (And no, stock photos won’t do. Car buyers want to see the car you’re selling.) Get full shot and close-ups from several different angles. If there’s any vehicle damage, make sure to include images and mention the details in your description.  

Tip: Walk the car yourself. What are you looking for? If there’s something you think an in-person customer would pause and look at, snap a photo and include it. Creating a transparent digital experience that aligns with the in-person experience builds customer trust and sets the stage for a positive experience. 

  1. Add 360-degree spins and videos. 360-degree views are prominent in other industries (like real estate!), and customers expect this kind of virtual experience for a large purchase. 87% of customers find 360-degree spins important when shopping for vehicles online, and it’s no surprise.? While 360-degree spins can’t replace a history report, they create confidence about the condition of the vehicle, build trust with the dealer and are necessary when purchasing partially or fully online.  

Tip: Set yourself apart by making 360-degree spins a VDP standard for your dealership;  integrate the process with your sales staff now and reap the benefits down the road.  Regardless of inventory levels, a 360-degree spin standard will add value and set you  apart from the competition and position you as a transparent and trustworthy  dealership. It’s also a great way to help you sell outside your market.   

  1. Write a readable and accurate vehicle description. How many VDP descriptions have you seen that are written in all caps like a Craigslist ad? They’re impossible to read. First, make sure your description sounds like it’s written by a human and in natural spoken language. Use punctuation and include information that customers actually need and might be looking for. Detail the basics — year, make, model, trim level and meaningful specs like sunroof, heated seats and package details. Include services that might set your dealership apart – warranties, delivery services, certification details, etc. You’ll also want to make sure to include any details about vehicle damage, matching your images, if applicable.  

Tip: Use the description area as a place to write a little bit about your dealership and why customers should buy from you. Sell yourself, but don’t go overboard; a paragraph or so should do it.  

  1. Provide accurate vehicle pricing and dealership practices. The price on your VDP should be the price that the customer pays. Accurate and transparent pricing is key to customer trust, The last thing you want is a customer backing out at the last minute because you’re not being truthful in your pricing details; as more people (76%) are open to making a purchase 100% online, these kinds of bait-and-switch tactics aren’t going to work. As far as accurate practices, if your VDP offers home delivery, make sure you offer home delivery. Don’t advertise a service or solution you don’t offer.  

Tip: More information is always better. If you have additional fees or services that are tacked on to every deal, be transparent and include that information in the description.  

  1. Offer a digital retailing option. With more consumers transacting fully online or digitally assisted, it’s important to offer some digital retailing solutions. In fact, 9 out of 10 consumers are more likely to buy from a dealership that offers at least one component of digital retailing.? These customers are also more profitable and deliver a shorter customer experience.  

Tip: Personalization saves everybody time—the consumer and the dealership. Consumers want to quickly identify the right vehicle at a price and payment they can afford. Making it easy for potential buyers to see payment and financing details up front using tools like Autotrader’s My Wallet and Accelerate My Deal digital retailing means leads that are more likely to close quickly and easily.     

By employing these VDP best practices for every vehicle,  you’ll get more eyes on your vehicles and create a better overall customer experience, driving trust through transparency.  

Autotrader offers 360-degree spins through our Snaplot 360 product, as well as digital retailing solutions to help drive your business. Reach out to a Dealer Success Consultant to learn more and get started.