Automotive
6 minute read - Feb 26, 2021

Selling Outside The Dealership - 5 features buyers want from an auto auction site

Expectations for auction buyers are seeing new highs -- here are specific features auction sites are focusing on to finish first place and ahead of the competition.
David Gomez
Enterprise Partnerships

What do you purchase online these days? Even before the pandemic, many Americans were buying many of their home, business, and lifestyle needs online. One sector that may have lagged behind was the auto industry.

We had it in our minds that we need to sit behind that wheel and feel how the car handles on the road before making a decision. We want to kick the tires, so to speak. With a used car, we want to see with our own eyes that the vehicle is everything the seller claims it to be.

Like it has with so many industries, the pandemic has changed the way we look at car buying. Home test drives, sanitization procedures, and free delivery and pickup have become the new normal. Since the COVID-19 lockdowns began, Cox Automotive (home of Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader) has seen an increase in online-only car shopping.

How are online auctions making this process more attractive to buyers? I’ll tell ya’.

1. Buyers won't wait around for a page to load

Buyers are fickle. When they first start their shopping journey they will be browsing dozens of websites. And having a page load too slowly is a quick way to lose a customer who is perfectly happy to click back and go onto the next website in the search result. This is especially true for mobile devices. Outdated, clunky website designs can turn off shoppers and lead them to click out of your site before they even view your inventory.

Google data shows that although more than 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile, mobile conversion rates lag behind desktop. In other words, speed means revenue.

According to Aberdeen Group research, fast page load speed boosts visitor engagement, retention, and sales. Every delay of one second in a website page load diminishes customer satisfaction by 16%, page views by 11%, and conversion rates by 7%.

Google research reveals that the probability of bounce increases by 32% as page load increases from one second to three seconds. And if your website takes more than three seconds to load, you could be losing almost half of your website visitors!

Quick page load times are important for landing pages, but when your site features galleries, quickness is essential there too. After all, no one wants to wait around to see car pictures.

According to Google, 25% of pages could save more than 250KB and 10% can save more than 1MB by simply compressing images and text. Consider having desktop specific-images and mobile-specific images with smaller file sizes. Of course, your mobile images still need to be in high resolution and high quality!

Other ways you can enhance your customer’s mobile experience and keep them scrolling through your car images longer is by incorporating more navigation tools. For example, make sure your mobile pages have visible "scroll to the top" buttons and a clutter-free navbar that follows users as they scroll down the page.

2. Buyers want high-res photos, videos, & 360 spins

One of the primary reasons used car buyers can be reluctant to shop online is a fear of being taken advantage of. In-person, you can see that missing hubcap or dented bumper.

Online auctioneers can allay their customers’ fears with providing more than one media type. Have you seen used car ads that feature several generic shots of the vehicle and few close-ups? This is not going to cut it anymore, knowledgeable online car buyers want more.

When you include hundreds of high-resolution photos of every detail of a car, video tour, & 360 spin -- you take the guesswork out of online car shopping. A professional will know how to set up the shots with the right lighting and angles to create visuals that answer just about any question a buyer could ask about a vehicle’s condition.

Digital transparency should be the key focus for online car marketplaces, according to Auto Dealer Today magazine. You can even use high-tech custom-built microphones to record the engine so buyers can hear the engine starting and idling.

3. Buyers want an easy way to ask questions

No matter how well you have described the vehicle in words and pictures, most buyers will still have questions.

Be sure to include an easy-to-locate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page -- like this one at Cars & Bids -- that offers precise details on the entire buying process. If the buyer wants to contact the seller privately, provide an easy link with clear instructions on how to do that as well.

Another way to boost buyer confidence is to include a comment thread on your site. For example, Bring A Trailer encourages sellers to answer questions and engage with buyers on its site as part of an online car community. And there are readily available software services that can help automate online communication specifically made for online auto sellers - such as Gubagoo.

You can read all about the importance of CX in selling cars in another Snappr article article here:

4. Buyers want easy-to-read vehicle history reports

Another great way to provide value to buyers is to offer full vehicle history reports. Buyers are already purchasing vehicle reports off site but these reports run around $40 per vehicle. Things can get expensive very quickly if a buyer is considering 3 or 4 vehicles, and you don’t want the cost of vehicle reports to be a deal breaker for the buyer when considering which cars they want to buy.

Instead of asking buyers to pay for their own reports, Cars & Bids provides a free vehicle report with each of its listings. This service not only helps save the buyer time and money but it can also greatly benefit the car auction website - the information can be made visible only to registered users and thus be used as a strong incentive for new buyers to create a user profile.

Design is also important for vehicle history reports. Make the most important fields clearly visible and easy to find without the need to scroll far down the page. Information most useful to buyers rae:

The easier you make car shopping on your website and reduce the need for the buyer to do any additional work, the more likely the buyer will keep using your website and not use the services of competitors.

5. Buyers want to shrink the middle man

The main reason car shoppers are attracted by online auction marketplaces is that they hope to find the car they want at a price they like.

A research study conducted by iSeeCars.com for Nerdwallet.com found that the average price for a used car listed on an online marketplace was less than the average listing price of a traditional brick-and-mortar dealership.

How much lower? The study found that the price was $2,048 lower than certified pre-owned vehicles and $202 lower than non-certified used cars. Buyers love working with sellers especially when it means they can save money. Websites that can make that process faster, easier, and more enjoyable will win the online car marketplace space.

Finally, if you are looking for a proven way to attract new buyers to your auction marketplace, it’s time to check out Snappr. Snappr is an easy and effective all-in-one solution for automotive photography.

Stunning automotive photography by Snappr

A study by Cox Automotive found that car dealers that used high-quality custom photos saw an increase in new car detail page views by 133% and used car detail page views by 349%! With the world’s largest network of professional photographers, Snappr can deliver high-quality photos anywhere and with as little as two hours’ advance notice.

All Snappr shoots are edited by a single in-house team, ensuring consistent results that adhere to your marketplace’s brand guidelines. Contact Snappr’s Enterprise Team today to learn how your car auction website can include professional photos that will attract more motivated  buyers and help you sell more cars.

About the author

David Gomez
Enterprise Partnerships

David Gomez leads partnerships for enterprise Automotive clients at Snappr. He has helped dozens of major players in the industry with their content strategy. He is available for a no-obligation consultation about your Automotive photography needs.

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