Bob Dylan hit it on the head when he said, “The times, they are a-changin’.” Few things change as quickly as technology, and automotive isn’t exactly shy about keeping pace. That is to say, dealers have been using technology to sell cars as soon as it hits the market.
Well, some of you may have heard about the new kid on the block: Facebook Marketplace. That’s right, Facebook has started to include car dealerships in their Marketplace platform. With the introduction of Facebook Marketplace in October of 2016, they’ve become a serious competitor to sites like eBay and Craigslist with their social media-driven version of “the classifieds.” But Facebook has recently announced their intentions to include the automotive industry by partnering with some digital agencies like cars.com and CDK to connect digital inventories to the Marketplace. So, what does this mean for dealers?
Let’s talk numbers. The biggest thing Facebook Marketplace has going for it is clearly the sheer size of its reach. If just 4% of the 1.7 billion users who currently use Marketplace start selling or buying used vehicles via this platform, Facebook could suddenly contend with sites like Autotrader, who currently have 38 million users, or eBay motors, who have 168 million.
What’s unique about Facebook’s Marketplace, though, is that it depends (significantly) on the interconnected Facebook community. Transactions become more upfront and personal when buyers can view the profiles of their sellers, making the anonymity of Craigslist and other sites seem untrustworthy by comparison. The added bonus of the built-in Facebook Messenger also makes inquiries easy and casual. However, despite its potential reach, Marketplace is still struggling to brand itself as a vehicle listing platform, and is still behind on functionality when compared to its competitors. But Facebook is starting to take notice of these shortcomings and is continuing to add new features, like more specific search fields.
Some dealers are starting to try this budding platform by listing their inventory on Marketplace, but there are a few restrictions to keep in mind:
- This feature is only available to dealerships working with certain Marketplace partners: Auction123, Cars.com, CDK Global, Edmunds and SOCIALDEALER.
- Dealerships can only list certified pre-owned vehicles on Marketplace
- Dealer listings appear with individuals selling their pre-owned vehicles. However, buyers can filter out individual listings to only view dealers and vice versa.
- Car purchases cannot made on Marketplace; sellers and buyers are only connected via the platform.
We’ve been watching this trend closely at DealerOn, and we’re actually conducting an in-depth 30-day case study to determine if this new feature from Facebook can actually help dealers sell more cars — and at a cost that makes sense. We’re always eager to test out any tool that helps our clients make more money, and we’ll summarizing our findings for you so keep an eye out for part two!