Best Practice: Inventory Management

Updated: Apr 11, 2019 | Brian Sullivan | 3 min

This article is applicable to stock on both a dealer website or a 3rd party classified site.

As if it needs to be said, the path to purchase is online and how well a dealer presents inventory on both the dealer website & / or 3rd party classified sites will play a huge part in determining how successful that dealership is.

As the table below (from Deloitte) shows, for an Auto Dealer, online sources account for 90%+ of leads.

Lead Origin. Source: Deloitte Dealership Benchmarks 2019

Managing your inventory online is key to attracting new business.

Unfortunately, many dealer sites in the bike, caravan, marine, agricultural, truck & construction space are not built to convert browsers into leads.

Too many are missing the basic requirement: an enquiry form on the details page that can generate leads.

If you are one of those dealers, a quick fix can be adding a chat functionality.

But before we get to inventory management, let’s look at buyers.

How people research Vs how people buy are very different.

Consumers research logically; they have a need, a budget and other criteria which leads them to find your product or vehicle. Your website needs to be built with this in mind and with search criteria that can get people from the site’s front page to the product that best meets their needs as quickly and easily as possible.

Search Results page

The first contact a potential buyer will have with your product is the search result page.

Here, your product will sit among many other similar products. What will entice a user to click through to the product details page?

Excluding price and specs, the 2 main opportunities to convert a browser into a potential prospect are the photos and the first few lines of the product description that appear on the page.

The Hero Image:


Display a strong image to entice the users in to view more. Some basics are making sure the product is clean (i.e. not jammed up beside other products), paying attention to shadows and showing it at its best angle.

Also, if on a classified site, remember that a user may conduct multiple searches over a 2-3-month period and so see your listing multiple times. In the same way you rotate stock around the yard to give the impression of movement and freshness, rotate your hero image so it doesn’t go stale.


The first few lines of your description:


These lines on the search results page are key to getting users to click through to view the product details. Use them wisely.

These should be unique to the product and aim to engage the potential buyer with the product.

If it’s a sports bike, for example, emotional language like ‘heart-pounding power’ might get an emotional hook into the buyer and get them to click through to find out more.

The Details page:

The most important page of a website is the product or vehicle details page. This is the page where purchase decisions are made.

The longer you can keep a user engaged on this page, the more likely they are to be converted to a sale.

We have already briefly discussed photos.


There are visual buyers, and imagery/photography is a strong tool to sell a product and create engagement.

The more photographs, the better, and they should be used to tell a story. Arrange them in a logical order that showcases the product – an external 360 and then an internal 360. If there are key selling points, photograph and highlight them too.

Strong photography can help sell products sight unseen as it helps build trust as buyers can see you are not trying to hide anything.


Comments are key selling tools and are too often underused, with most dealers using the comments to sell the dealership rather than the product.

People buy stories, and you should sell the product before discussing the dealership.

A consumer’s headspace when considering a vehicle is already in ownership. What is this going to look like if I own it? The dealer should aim to talk to that head space by using language that connects.

Use emotional language when selling bikes/caravans/boats and other recreational products. People buy lifestyles rather than products, and your aim should be to discuss how this product helps get their lifestyle.

For commercial machinery, use business/masculine language when selling working machines. For example, ‘XYZ tech means minimum down time’

The other common mistake is just adding a list of specs. So What?

If listing a product feature, give the ‘so what’. For example:

“This caravan has solar panels and a 100AH battery”

So what? So, you can camp off the grid for long periods, or,

“Imagine yourself lying under the east-west bed gazing at the thousands of stars through the extra-large skylight”

This covers the features of the van and connects emotionally to the lifestyle too.

Hopefully, your inventory is now generating some leads. Click here for more information and best practices on lead management:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does one effectively measure the impact of improved inventory management and product presentation on lead generation and sales conversions?

To effectively measure the impact of improved inventory management and product presentation on lead generation and sales conversions, dealerships can adopt a multi-faceted approach. This involves setting up analytics to track visitor engagement on inventory pages, such as time spent on page, bounce rate, and the click-through rate on the enquiry form or chat functionality.

Additionally, tracking the conversion rate of leads to sales over time provides a direct measure of success. Dealerships can also employ A/B testing to compare different presentation strategies and their effects on user behaviour. By analysing these metrics, dealerships can refine their online presence to better meet consumer needs and drive sales.

What are the best practices for managing inventory on third-party classified sites versus dealer websites?

When managing inventory on third-party classified sites versus dealer websites, it’s crucial to recognize the distinct roles and audiences of these platforms. On dealer websites, where there is more control over the presentation and user experience, dealerships can focus on providing comprehensive details, immersive photo galleries, and engaging product stories that cater to serious buyers.

For third-party classified sites, where listings are amidst numerous competitors, the focus should be on capturing attention quickly. This means prioritizing high-quality hero images, compelling and concise descriptions, and clear call-to-actions. Despite these differences, consistency in brand messaging and product information across all platforms is vital for credibility and recognition.

How can dealerships differentiate their inventory to stand out in a highly competitive online market?

Differentiating inventory in a highly competitive online market requires a creative and customer-centric approach. Beyond high-quality photographs and engaging descriptions, offering virtual tours or augmented reality views of the vehicles can provide a more immersive experience. Personalizing communication and offering tailored recommendations based on user browsing history or inquiries can also enhance engagement.

Engaging in storytelling, where each product’s unique features or the lifestyle it enables is highlighted, can connect emotionally with potential buyers. Leveraging social proof through customer testimonials or showcasing how your dealership contributes to the community can further differentiate your brand.

Lastly, staying responsive to market trends and customer feedback, and continuously innovating the online presentation of inventory, will keep a dealership ahead of the competition in the digital realm.

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