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Taking stock: Reviewing the stock-sourcing landscape after lockdown

Sponsored: Dealers have risen to the challenges of the last 14 months, with many turning to digital platforms to sell vehicles and purchase stock. Now that physical auctions are initiating plans to reopen their doors, Dealer Auction’s Sarah Marley tells us how she thinks the stock-sourcing landscape will look as we adapt to the ‘new normal’.

Time 4 weeks ago

With used cars dominating the current market, expanding your stock sources in order to maximise your forecourt has never been more important.

Before the pandemic, the majority of transactions still took place in the auction hall, with buyers travelling to make their purchases. The industry was beginning to show signs of a steady shift, with the emergence of digital platforms – in early 2020, we predicted that 80 per cent of core trade vehicles would be transacted online in the next three to five years.

The pandemic undeniably accelerated that – in March 2021, 38 per cent of dealers told us they’d increased their use of digital auctions over the past 12 months.


As we progress along the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, there’s been much speculation about whether digital wholesale will be the ‘new normal’, with physical auctions returning in a different format (much like the trend seen across physical retail). But in the short term, it doesn’t need to be as black and white as that.

Digital leads the way

It’s clear that digital services are playing a pivotal role in the future of vehicle wholesale, but in this interim period, a collaborative digital and physical approach to stock-buying could help dealers execute their post-lockdown stock strategies.

There’s a lot of talk in the industry about a ‘blended approach’ to vehicle sales and sourcing stock – supporting digital auctions with physical ones is exactly that!

In a digital world, it’s all about convenience – buyers have access to the stock they want at their fingertips, 24/7, without having to travel to auctions. But, in some cases, physical will still be required for certain stock profiles and vehicle types.

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Sarah Marley, sales director at Dealer Auction

‘Digital is leading the way’ – Sarah Marley, sales director at Dealer Auction

When leveraging digital tools, dealers should buy smarter with data and insight – paying attention to metrics to support their instincts.

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At Dealer Auction, we’ve implemented a number of smart tools, such as Auto Trader’s ‘days to sell’ (based on postcode location), expected profit margin, and Retail Rating. We also have a disruptive buyer fee structure that’s reflective of the digital environment.

So, while the automotive landscape is still unclear following a challenging year, we’re encouraging dealers to do whatever works for them – and their stock – in order to double their firepower and bounce back faster.

We’re proud to be the largest dedicated digital marketplace in the UK – but, first and foremost, we care about our dealers and their recovery. While digital is the future of stock-sourcing, physical auctions can provide dealers with an additional stock source – the smart choice during a time of increased competition for quality stock. For us, that’s what a ‘blended approach’ looks like.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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