According to a 2020 Cox Automotive study, two out of three consumers today are now more likely to buy their vehicle 100% online. And since 2019, Google has reported an 80% increase in the search term ‘best car under’. There is no question that prospective buyers are spending more time researching cars online than shopping on dealership lots. If they even make it onto a lot.
Knowing this, your dealership needs to prioritize your top salesperson: your website. By making your VDPs more interactive with a 360° walkaround experience, you’ll enable consumers who browse your site to get a full picture of each vehicle they’re looking at, including key details and features. This gives them a more holistic and immersive view of their potential purchase. Many dealers believe that a 360° walkaround is complicated to produce. However, it takes as little as five minutes, requires only one camera or device, and can be uploaded wirelessly in minutes. To get you started on the path to incredible digital merchandising, let’s look at some of the common roadblocks to exceptional imaging and how you can overcome these challenges to easily create amazing 360° walkarounds for your website.
Car Photography Challenges
Exceptional dealership car photography is more important than ever before. Consumers don’t just go online now, they live there. That means that they’re likely to spend more time on your dealership’s website than on your lot. In fact, the average number of dealerships customers visit during their shopping journey dropped from 5.4 in 2012 to 1.5 in 2019. If the pictures of the vehicles on your lot aren’t high quality, you could be missing out on valuable sales. However, taking pictures of your inventory can come with some unexpected challenges in both cost and quality.
Cars are large and as you know all too well, shooting them requires the right space, people and tools. In some cases, this can be a logistical nightmare and presents several challenges to getting vehicles onto your website quickly.
To get started with vehicle photography, you’ll spend thousands on a camera, editing software and other accessories, not to mention training and hiring. This is overhead many dealerships just can’t justify. That leaves hiring a freelance photographer, who can take your vehicle photos when needed. With a freelancer, sourcing can be challenging and hourly costs can be prohibitive. Plus, you’ll be competing for their time and endlessly coordinating schedules. Neither option is ideal.
Dealers often consider using a photo booth as well. While appealing on the surface because it creates image consistency, booths can add additional complexity and logistical headaches. For example, where should you set it up? In your repair bay? Recon lane? Outside somewhere on your lot? Even if you find a spot, it could take up space that you’re eventually going to need. And, for upwards of $30,000, booths represent a large capital investment. Car photo booths are also permanent installations, so wherever you set it up, that’s where it’s going to stay. Finally, with multiple incoming units and one booth, you’ll waste precious time moving vehicles in and out of the booth for shooting.
Solution: Impel’s Capture App makes it easy for anyone at your dealership to shoot vehicle imagery anytime, anywhere with no need to move cars around or invest in an expensive photo booth and other equipment. No coordinating schedules or waiting weeks for your freelancer to appear. Any team member can simply grab their device and head out to the lot to snap vehicle photos in minutes.
Ensuring the photos on your website are consistently high quality is important. A lack of consistency across your VDPs leads to a negative customer experience and doesn’t show your dealership in the best light. What’s worse, images might look incomplete or hastily taken, which can ultimately impact buyer confidence and cause them to shop elsewhere. You can certainly contract a freelance photographer or hire a dedicated employee to take quality photos, but both options are rarely feasible or cost-effective. With outsourced contractors, you are beholden to their schedule and the cost per vehicle can quickly become prohibitive. And a dedicated in-house photographer can be inefficient, as fluctuations in new inventory can lead to too much downtime and an influx of new inventory can create a backlog, causing significant delays in getting vehicles onto your website.
With no professional photographer available, a sales representative, marketing coordinator or other dealership team member may be left to take pictures with their phone or the dealership camera. Typically, these folks have little experience with professional-level photography. Best practices regarding lighting, angles and composition take time to learn and practice, further slowing down your dealership processes.
Sleek, consistent, professional-quality eye-catching photos can help sell shoppers on the vehicle they’re researching. Imagery matters.
Solution: Impel enables any dealership employee to take high-quality photos and videos in a quick and consistent manner. Our Capture App guides the user with a step-by-step image process to ensure consistent photos for every vehicle in your inventory. It couples ease of use with professional-quality photographic controls and editing, including white balance, color correction and more. On average it takes five to ten minutes to create a video-based exterior 360º walkaround, an interior panoramic view, 64 photos and an auto-narrated video. Additionally, employees can upload video-based spins directly to your website and still images to your feed provider in only 15 minutes.
Like the old cliche goes, ‘time is money.’ This is especially true for dealerships. When you get new cars on your lot, you need to get them up on your website as fast as possible so you can get them off of your lot as fast as possible.
With traditional photography by a freelancer or in-house photographer, turnaround time can take anywhere from one to two days to get your photos ready to be published. That’s due to the time it takes to upload photos, select the right images, and then edit them to ensure they are of the highest quality. And that’s if you’ve got an experienced and fast photographer. As we’ve mentioned, booths can further slow down your time to market. Driving each car in and out of the photo booth takes a lot of time, lengthening the process to getting cars on-site and taking time away from employees who could be selling.
Delayed imaging has real consequences. With holding costs of $40 – $85 per day for each vehicle on your lot, that could add up to $100 – $200k per year for each day your inventory isn’t merchandised on your website. That’s money no business wants to lose.
Solution: Shooting a 360º walkaround with Impel is so easy anyone at your dealership can do it. They just simply:
- Open the Impel Capture mobile app
- Scan the VIN or open the vehicle stock number
- Walk around the vehicle
- Shoot exterior, interior and close-up photos as directed by the app
- Upload directly from the app
That’s it. In under 10 minutes you can shoot a 360º exterior and interior view of any car on your lot. And it’s ready to upload to your site right away.
Impel shortens this one- to two-day process into just minutes without the huge investment. There’s no downloading to a computer or editing required. Everything you’ll need to do can be done in the app, including uploading photos, videos, and 360° walkarounds to your dealer sites as well as aggregators and third-party sites. That means you can get your cars much faster in front of the people that matter the most: the buyers.
Take Our Customers’ Words for It
If you’re still not convinced that Impel can save you time and money while streamlining your imaging process, here’s what our customers are saying:
“We were able to cut our monthly operating costs by moving to Impel. In addition to the monthly savings, the process of taking pictures to having the pictures on our website went from days to less than 15 minutes. Also, our spins look amazing! Pros: Very easy to use; frequent updates; unlimited spins/month; excellent equipment; professional results.”
-Tommy B., IT Manager, Herring Ford
“Impel lets us stand out from the crowd. The app is simple to use, and it uploads the videos directly to our website, within minutes. The customer service from Impel has been exceptional.” -Sean Trimble, eCommerce Director, Herzog Meier
Not convinced? Explore more customer stories.
Ready to Streamline Your Imaging Processes?
If you’re ready to level-up your VDPs with consistent quality photos, videos, and interactive 360 walkarounds that can be completed and uploaded to your site and 3rd party sites in less than 20 minutes, schedule a demo with us today. Our team is happy to answer any questions you might have and show you how Impel solutions can enhance and streamline your merchandising.