6 minute read - Mar 01, 2024

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

Expectations for auction buyers are at new highs. Here are the specific features auction sites focus on to win and beat the competition.
Darren Blench
Enterprise Partnerships

In 2022 alone, there were 268 million digital buyers in the United States. By 2025, experts predict this number is likely to reach 285 million

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.

In 2020, almost 30% of U.S. new car sales were online. Before the pandemic, less than 2% of vehicles were purchased digitally.

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.

How are online auctions making this process more attractive to buyers?

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

Buyers can be picky. At the start, they visit many websites. If your page loads slowly, they'll leave quickly. This is crucial on mobile. Old, clunky designs deter shoppers from browsing your inventory.

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

Aberdeen Group research shows fast page load boosts engagement, retention, and sales. A one-second delay reduces satisfaction by 16%, views by 11%, and conversions by 7%.

Google research notes a 32% bounce increase from one to three seconds. Over three seconds? You might lose almost half your visitors! Fast loads matter for landing pages and galleries. Nobody likes waiting for car pictures!

Google suggests compressing images and text can save data. Use different images for desktop and mobile. Mobile pics must stay high quality though!

To improve customer experience on your mobile site, add navigation tools. Include "scroll to top" buttons and a clean navbar. These features help users navigate smoothly and stay engaged.

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 ease their customers’ fears by 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.

You take the guesswork out of online car shopping when you include hundreds of high-res photos of every car detail, a video tour, and a 360 spin. A professional will know how to set up the shots. They will use the right lighting and angles to create visuals. These visuals answer buyer's questions about a vehicle’s condition.

According to Auto Dealer Today magazine, digital transparency should be the key focus for online car marketplaces. 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

When selling a car, buyers often have questions. It's important to consider the customer experience when selling cars digitally, too.

A helpful FAQ page, like the one on Cars & Bids, can provide detailed information.

Make it easy for buyers to contact you privately, or consider adding a comment thread to create buyer interaction, foster community engagement, and boost buyer confidence.

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

To add value for buyers, offer free vehicle history reports. Many buyers pay $40 per report outside the site. If a buyer considers multiple cars, costs add up fast. You don't want reports to deter buyers from purchasing cars.

At Cars & Bids, each listing includes a free vehicle report. This saves buyers time and money and benefits the website by encouraging new user registrations.

Design matters for vehicle history reports. Highlight key details that are essential for buyers without scrolling:

Making car shopping easy on your site keeps buyers coming back. If they find all they need easily, they'll stick around and not look elsewhere.

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 for 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.

Professional 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


Q: How do online auction sites handle the inspection and verification process of vehicles to ensure the quality and condition of the cars being sold?

Online auction sites use photos, videos, and 360-degree spins for vehicle inspections. These visuals give buyers detailed info on car conditions, boosting trust. Some sites offer vehicle history reports showing ownership and accident details.

Q: Are there any specific measures implemented by online auction platforms to address concerns about fraud or misrepresentation of vehicles in listings?

To prevent fraud, online auction sites verify sellers and listings. Sellers must give detailed vehicle information with VIN numbers and ownership proof. Some platforms use AI or manual checks to detect scams.

Q: What strategies do online auction websites use to create seamless transactions and ensure buyers' satisfaction?

Online auction websites use various strategies for smooth transactions. They offer multiple payment options like credit/debit cards, bank transfers, or secure online payment gateways.

Additionally, platforms provide transparent shipping choices. Buyers can select their preferred delivery method and track purchases until they arrive. Return policies offer peace of mind. In most cases, buyers can return a vehicle if it doesn't meet expectations. They can also return it if issues arise after purchase. These measures improve the buying experience. They also build trust between buyers and sellers in the online car market.

About the author

Darren Blench
Enterprise Partnerships

Darren Blench 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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