7 Myths About Vehicle Merchandising Debunked

The pandemic has rocked the way dealers merchandise, and the intense pressure has caused some traditional methods to collapse. Yet, some strategies managed to survive. In October 2020, Dealer Specialties conducted a survey with 275 recent car buyers, asking them a series of questions regarding the myths and misconceptions surrounding vehicle photography. We found that vehicle photography is the most important asset in the vehicle online shopping experience. So in this article, we debunk the 7 common myths about vehicle merchandising.


Myth 1: The Location of The Vehicle During The Photo Shoot Isn't Important

When asked, “which photo would most influence your decision to purchase a vehicle”, survey participants had the strongest reaction to photos of vehicles at the dealership.

Customer responses included:

  • “I need to know if the company selling is legit.”
  • “It looks more realistic and professional. The other photos look photoshopped and fake.”
  • “You see what it looks like in a normal setting.”
dealership photo background

Not only is photo A the most realistic and professional, but it’s also the most cost-efficient. If you’re a small dealership with limited branding, then shooting on location can save you money. Of course, if you don’t have space on your lot to shoot in front of your dealership, going off-site is a valid substitute.

But, shooting at the dealership provides an accurate representation of the vehicle and helps a customer through the buying process. Respondents show that everyday dealerships don’t need the perfect shot or photo booth to get potential buyers behind the wheel.


Myth 2: Buying A Photo Booth Will Improve Efficiency And Save Money

Dealers are often told that using a photo booth will make their business more efficient and save them money. But we found that there’s really no evidence that shows installing a photo booth will make your dealership more efficient. It’s roughly the same amount of work. You’re still taking photos, using labels, and moving cars around your lot. That means your internal staff ends up managing the photo booth instead of focusing on the jobs that they’re best at, putting everything else on hold.

photo booth investment

Looking at the cost breakdown above, one store with an average size inventory of 400 New and Preowned vehicles will need 1.5 photographers to maintain average photo percentage. At $18 per hour that’s going to cost you $56,150 per year, with the additional costs of booth hardware and fees.

What makes you more efficient is internal processes in your recon department and service department.  Something else to keep in mind, often we see photo booths being bottleneck specifically for larger dealers or when you receive large vehicle deliveries.

When you partner with a team of professional photographers, such as Dealer Specialties’ lot services professionals, you save money, hassle, and time to market. You enjoy expert vehicle photographs, comprehensive data, and photo enhancements without interrupting your workflow.


Myth 3: I Need Over 40 Photos On My VDP


A picture says a thousand words, but how many words do car shoppers need before they’re ready to make a purchase? Based on our survey, we found that between 10-20 photos of a vehicle will satisfy around 50% of car shoppers to where they can make a decision. This means that dealers can forgo paying for the traditional 40 photos and save money while still providing enough photos to showcase the features car shoppers are looking for.


Myth 4: Exterior Photos Are More Important Than Interior Photos


Today’s car shoppers are doing things differently than previous generations. Thanks to the ease of online shopping, modern car buyers expect that they can research as much as they want before making a purchase. A significant portion of that research comes from touring the car, inside and out. 

The modern car has more bells and whistles than ever before, and modern shoppers want to know what features they’re paying for. It’s no surprise that respondents ranked interior photos as the most demanded photos for making a buying decision.

With professional, feature-rich photos your VDP’s will increase the informational and emotional value for prospective buyers.


Myth 5: The Order of Photos Doesn’t Matter

Screenshot 2021-04-12 124451

Our survey revealed that 90% of participants use their mobile devices to research potential buying options. Mobile devices don't excel at showing multiple pictures at once. You don’t want to bog down your buyers with multiple exterior photos before getting to the important interior details, especially if you only have 10-20 pictures at your disposal. 

Customers today are far too busy to swipe through an extensive photo album. By the time they arrive at your VDP, they already know what they’re looking for. So don’t waste their time with a lengthy exterior photoshoot. Focus on the high-value features and put them in the driver’s seat with cockpit and dashboard photos towards the beginning of your photo sequence. The sooner they can picture themselves in the car, the quicker they’ll be driving it.


Myth 6: Anyone Can Take Pictures

Dealership-Photography-Featured-1024x683These days, taking a photo has never been easier. But just because anyone can take a picture doesn’t mean everyone should, especially when it comes to vehicle merchandising. The ideal vehicle photographer is highly motivated, a self-starter who has an eye for detail, and understands merchandising best practices. 

Not everyone with a smartphone is going to fit that description, and that includes your team. That’s why partnering with Dealer Specialties' team of professional photographers ensures your pictures come out great every time. They live and breathe vehicle photography and ensure that your photos look professional and eye-catching every time.


Myth 7: My Photographer Is Not Doing A Good Job

We hear from dealers all the time about missing photos. When photos go missing, it’s often the photographers that get blamed. But, we’ve discovered that more often than not, there was an internal process error that caused the merchandising mishap. Whether the vehicle was moved and forgotten or already sold, poor inventory management is usually the culprit. That’s why instead of hiring a new photographer, your dealership should be using a reliable inventory management system. 

Dealer Specialties VinMotion® makes it easy to manage your new and used inventory, all in one convenient place. With enhanced vehicle merchandising tools, photo management, automated comments, and more, everything you need to maximize your dealership’s sales volume is at your fingertips.

Have more questions about the 7 vehicle merchandising myths? You can watch me debunk in detail, or contact Dealer Specialties’ team of experts.

Get a Custom Photography Quote

Back to Blog