The Accidental Bait and Switch

Stock inventory photos are the fastest way to breach consumer trust online.

There’s a host of poor excuses that dealers make to convince themselves that real inventory photos aren’t necessary. Many dealers think consumers just don’t care about real photos— a belief which couldn’t be more wrong. These dealers are always shocked to hear that the use of real photography was found to be more important than price to shoppers in a recent Cobalt study.

In fact, the same Cobalt study found that 70% of consumers do not click through from a VSR to a VDP with stock photos—they just bounce! I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that stock photos kill VDP views  (and lead numbers). And yet it seems that for some dealers, all the data in the world isn’t enough to make the switch to real photos.

Recently, a dealer was telling me how he decided to make the change from stock photos to real photos. Despite being e-marketing savvy—it wasn’t a strict ROI decision that led him to make the switch. It was about building consumer trust.

In an industry where consumer trust is paramount (a person will read 10 reviews on average about your dealership before making a buying decision), the dealer experienced one customer too many fall prey to what he termed as the “accidental online bait and switch.” All too frequently, a customer would get tricked by an online stock photo into thinking a car had some option that it actually lacked and would promptly storm out of their store—irate. This had to stop. Real photos allowed the dealer to create an online shopping experience with integrity that matched how he conducted business in-store.

Stock photos don’t just put your month-to-month sales goal on the line, they put your reputation in the long run on the line. So lose the stock photos: avoid consumer wrath, build consumer trust, and take comfort in the fact that you’ll never accidentally bait and switch a customer again.

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