The following is Part 10 of a 12-part special report from Trucks, Parts, Service on the state of the used truck market.
While used truck listing sites have been around for years, the offerings and opportunities for dealers to maximize their investment in these marketplaces continues to evolve.
The newest entrant, Equipment Experts, launched in August by Trucks, Parts, Service (TPS) publisher Randall-Reilly with the goal of “increasing buyer confidence by giving them the information they need to make wise purchase decisions,” says Anna Kifer, senior product manager.
As part of development, Randall-Reilly conducted extensive research through TPS’s sister publications Commercial Carrier Journal and Overdrive to find out the major obstacles used truck buyers face.
The biggest problem? “Inadequate equipment history/condition information,” cited by 57 percent of fleet respondents. The survey also asked the most important considerations fleets weigh when evaluating available inventory online. Fifty-three percent said, “equipment maintenance history” and 46 percent cited “detailed specs.”
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To address those pain points, Equipment Experts provides access to RigDig truck history reports, expert and owner-generated equipment reviews, comparison tools, detailed specs and equipment monitoring.
The intent is by the time consumers reach out to sellers, Equipment Experts has provided them with the tools they need to feel more confident in making their purchasing decision and to make it more quickly, Kifer says.
Another marketplace option, Commercial Truck Trader, has worked well for Palmer Trucks, according to Marketing Manager Cameron Nichols. Previously, the company did a lot of print advertising and its online presence was a bare bones inventory listing.
But with Commercial Truck Trader, Palmer can “show the major specifications our customers are looking for along with a really rich media gallery. On top of that we use some of the promotional features for listings we feel our customers are in the market for at certain times.”
Another well-established used listing site, Truck Paper, is the primary resource used by Utility/Keystone Trailer Sales to sell used equipment, says Bill Zeamer, vice president, sales. “We have a special 800 number that tracks the calls we get from Truck Paper advertisements and a special email account to track leads,” he says.
Zeamer says Utility/Keystone gets approximately 35 percent of its leads from Truck Paper. The remainder come from a combination of the dealer’s website, Commercial Truck Trader, My Little Salesman and Truck ‘N Trailer Magazine.
Each used marketplace offers a different pricing model to dealer clients. For instance, the cost to post used vehicles on Commercial Truck Trader involves “a number of different packages and solutions and our team works with the dealer to find the best one that fits their volume of inventory and their market,” says Vice President Amanda Ayala.
Utility/Keystone pays Truck Paper based on the size of the ads it runs. For example, roughly $230 per week for a quarter-page ad, $400 per week for a half-page and $735 per week for a full-page ad. In addition, the dealer pays to be listed in certain regions of the country.
Equipment Experts takes a different pricing approach, offering dealers a performance-based structure, Kifer says. “We strive to build a partnership with our dealer clients and our pricing model was built on that foundation,” she says. “Our pricing model places the responsibility on us to earn what dealers will be paying us for. We believe the transparency created throughout our entire solution will raise the bar for what sellers and buyers expect in the industry, and we are excited to lead that charge.”
One of the biggest benefits of using these marketplaces is they bring in more interested buyers than individual dealers would be able to entice to their own sites.
Commercial Truck Trader, for instance, has more than 1 million unique monthly visitors, according to Ayala. More than 47 percent of visitors are looking to buy a truck or trailer within the next 30 days, she says, adding, “These are in-market buyers.”
Equipment Experts takes a proactive approach to bringing potential buyers to dealers’ listings, Kifer says. “We don’t just wait for buyers to find your listing,” she says. “We target verified buyers using digital tactics powered by our proprietary audience and data intelligence.” Equipment Experts also leverages the large trucking audiences built by its sister media sites, CCJ and Overdrive.
In cases where a customer browses but doesn’t buy, online listing sites also can maintain contact with a prospect for a dealer and continue feeding them information.
“If consumers come to Commercial Truck Trader and look at a particular truck from a dealership, we ‘cookie’ those users and when they go to Facebook or Instagram, we’re able to find them and populate their feed with an ad to draw their attention back to the truck, and bring them to that unit on Commercial Truck Trader,” Ayala says.
And that ability to continue marketing a truck, even passively, is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Dealers who can remain top of mind with potential customers are far more likely to eventually earn a sale.
No matter which marketplace a dealer chooses, Nichols recommends dealers put a lot of thought into how they list their trucks online.
“When we’re looking at the inventory, often we have to think of the digital space as a showroom. If customers were to see a truck in person, what would they want to look at, what questions would they have. We use that mindset when filling out the listings and provide the detail they would want if they were at the dealership,” he says.
“However you choose to market your trucks, always keep in mind your overall strategy and keep the needs and behaviors of the customers in mind. It should always be about them,” says Nichols.