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FOCUS – eBay Continues to Improve Dealer Sales Tool

November 28, 2005
Filed under Features

Is the Internet a good way to sell used and non-current powersports equipment? Curtis Kroeker, a senior manager at eBay, certainly thinks so, and a growing number of powersports dealers seem to be agreeing with him.
“eBay allows people to move units that don’t move – used and non-currents,” says Kroeker, senior manager for eBay’s powersports and other vehicle business. “We don’t cause any conflict in the local market,” he says, “because that sale probably wouldn’t exist anyway. This approach keeps dealers operating within their territory for new units.”
OEMs have some concerns about Internet sales of machines, especially when they cross from one dealer territory to another, as many of them do. Some 75% of such vehicle transactions take place across state lines. In a significant portion of these sales, however, says Kroeker, the buyer picks up the vehicle in person from the selling dealer.
“This should help alleviate delivery concerns,” he says, pointing out that there is nothing to prevent a selling dealer from requiring his buyers to pick up the vehicle in person if that’s what he or is OEM wants to do.
Close to half of eBay’s vehicle buyers pick up the purchased unit in person, Kroeker says.
OEMs are concerned about delivery inspection to ensure safety and to avoid liability. At this time, it’s also difficult for both participating dealers – the seller and the one that does the prep and actually delivers the vehicle to the buyer – to make a reasonable profit.
OEMs say that out-of-state purchases cause the selling dealer to lose a potential repeat customer. There’s also a safety concern, since the buyer may not receive proper safety training, and, indeed, may not even be making an appropriate purchase. The motorcycle could be too large or be overpowered for the rider. There’s no way for the selling dealer to know this, and the dealer who preps the unit may not have the time and manpower to work with the buyer.
Kroeker has talked and met with OEMs to come up with a solution, following comments that were made at the Dealer Expo at Indianapolis in February, but nothing has been developed.
“OEMs still see this as a concern,” he says. “It’s something we have to address, and we’re working with them on it. We’re trying to find something that works for dealers and OEMs and for eBay, but we haven’t found the silver bullet.”
Even though there are concerns, traffic on eBay motors which includes all vehicles, hit annualized global sales rate of $14.3 billion in the second quarter of this year. That’s up from $9.8 billion during the same period last year.
POWERFUL NEW FEATURES
eBay management isn’t taking a “wait and see” attitude toward growth in the powersports segment. It’s moving ahead, already developing several new features this year. Some of these features involve working with third party vendors who have developed software that facilitates vehicle sales.
One such partner is CARad Express, which can be reached at its www.express.carad.com Web site from a link on eBay.
CARad provides a listing service and software tools that enable dealers to easily develop a high-quality, professional listing. It enables the seller to list more than 30 photos and includes check lists and questions that prompt the dealer about what to provide that will help make the sale. A normal eBay listing is $30 and the CARad service adds another $9.95 to that charge.
CARad built its reputation serving the auto industry, but Kroeker says the new, simpler version that it has developed for powersports is expected to provide a real value for dealers, says Kroeker. CARad was launched this August.
AutoRevo, at www.autorevo.com, is a second new service offered by eBay. AutoRevo offers high quality photos and other assistance for dealers who wish to list products on eBay. The service can be paid for using a fee for each use or a monthly subscription which allows virtually unlimited use.
eBay also has improved its own internal offering, increasing the number of photos that can be used from 12 to 24 and streamlining the setup process, says Kroeker.
On the customer service side, eBay has tripled the staff serving major powersports dealer customers, moving from one to three fulltime managers since February. Support staff also has been increased at eBay’s Salt Lake City facility.
Each manager has several hundred accounts that he works with on a regular basis. The customer service function provides support on a 24/7 to “large potential” dealers, Kroeker said.
“The real power of the Internet,” says Kroeker, “is that it enables sellers to reach buyers they wouldn’t otherwise reach, and it enables buyers to find sellers they wouldn’t otherwise find if they were restricted to the local area.”

-Joe Delmont

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