In today's struggling economy and consolidating auto industry consumers, auto dealers and their automotive advertising agencies are demanding more for less. Consumers want to spend less time and money shopping for a vehicle and auto dealers have directed their automotive advertising agencies to deliver more reach, frequency, impressions -- and of course vehicles -- for less money with less effort since auto dealer's staff's have been reduced along with their advertising budgets.
The first wave of solutions that satisfied consumers and auto dealers alike came with the growth of technology driven marketing applications that replicated proven real world selling processes to accommodate established consumer preferences. The Internet provided the efficient media required to effectively deliver the marketing message to a qualified consumer in a cost effective and scalable manner and several automotive advertising vendors developed applications that made the message more relevant and transparent for the consumer.
A prime example of how the virtual world was built on the real world was in the explosive growth of video in online automotive advertising. A generation of consumers that grew up with television quickly gravitated to video on the World Wide Web. The search engines adjusted their algorithms to accommodate them by weighting video over copy or pictures in their search results. SiSTeR Technologies pioneered the automated Video Walk A-Round industry in 2006 before the search engines and auto dealers recognized the preference by consumers for video when surfing the web to purchase a new or pre-owned vehicle. As a result, SiSTeR Technologies has earned a reputation as a dedicated, innovative and progressive provider of video for the auto industry. SiSTeR produces comprehensive video analytical reports and has demonstrated that auto dealers using its video applications enjoy increased conversion rates, more calls and lead submission exceeding 70%.
SiSTeR uses proprietary technology that creates an individual Video Walk A-Round for every vehicle in the dealers' inventory using existing pictures, data and text. The production process is fully automated without placing any burden on the dealer. One of the most valued and unique features of their process is that every vehicle is described using a real human voice and the music and style of presentation are customized to fit the vehicle's category.
Potential car buyers are served by the video clips presented through SiSTer's proprietary 3DF player that is integrated with most web site providers and all of the major industry portals. Thanks to their 3DF technology, SiSTeR provides the auto dealer with valuable information to quantify their R.O.I. including vehicle comparisons and user behavior when they interact with the video.
Of equal importance to the auto dealer is the fact that the video clips are also uploaded to You Tube and indexed by Google. SiSTeR pioneered the video search engine in early 2008 as the first video provider for the automotive industry that integrated with You Tube. Today, vSEO has become an industry standard and SiSTeR was strategically positioned to take advantage by being the first to expand their application into a comprehensive platform that includes their professionally produced videos as well as a variety of complimentary products and services.
According to Israel Alpert, the C.E.O. of SiSTeR Technologies -- Many providers are trying to follow but none of them has the depth of expertise and experience that is required to achieve top position on Google's search result. We just introduced VidBrid -- a revolutionary technology that merges the vehicle presentation and the dealers' branding with full motion video inserts that are perfectly synchronized with the voice over. Our productions are not just boring picture stitching or infomercials that turn the audience away. Our VidBrid technology not only captures the user's attention but it allows the dealer and the service provider to customize the production to fit every vehicle and style as well as to include the dealers' messaging, services and special offerings within the video production. Differentiation is the key to successful marketing and SiSTeR has taken that wisdom to the next level. Auto dealers are no longer limited to the same cookie-cutter, one production fits all video to market their vehicles and their auto dealerships.
The true leverage of extending automotive advertising applications into platforms is realized when specialized platforms -- such as SiSTeR Technologies Video Platform -- merge with non-competing applications and/or platforms to enhance the solutions provided by both. SiSTeR has developed a national network of distinguished resellers, service providers and promoters that already have established platforms and/or applications. Their common goal is to expand their services to their auto dealer clients while improving the online shopping experience for consumers. Their expanding group of respected channel partners can point to direct engagement with large dealer groups. It has already earned them a pilot program with a major OEM which should be announced to the public at the 2010 NADA Convention scheduled in Orlando, February 13th though February 15th, 2010. With a combined network of over 600 sales people in the field supported by their philosophy and focus to stay on the cutting edge of video production and marketing to the auto industry they are recognized by many of their auto dealer clients as an innovative vendor partner who is extremely attentive to the auto dealer's needs.
ecarlist is an automotive advertising vendor with a variety of applications that comprise a marketing platform of their own. ecarlist recognized the proprietary nature of SiSTeR's video platform and they recently became their latest channel partner. Their new reseller relationship with SiSTeR Technologies will enhance both platforms and provide added value to their shared customers. ecarlist provides a comprehensive inventory management application and appraisal tool tied to internet sourced market data as well as web site designs and support services which will benefit by their integration of SiSTeR's video platform.
I interviewed Len Critcher, the President of ecarlist, on my blog talk radio show, Automotive Advertising Experts, that aired on November 14th 2008. The new relationship between ecarlist and SiSTeR Technologies developed after the two companies recognized the value of combining their applications to better serve their auto dealer clients.
Len Critcher is a dealer principal of eCarLink.com, a leading Internet dealership and CEO of ecarlist.com, a dealership software company in Dallas, TX. For five years, eCarLink.com has consistently sold over 1,000 vehicles per year exclusively through online marketing.
Critcher has been profiled in Forbes Magazine, CBS News, American Way, and the Dallas Business Journal for his work. He is often asked to consult dealerships on best practices in selling/marketing online. Critcher's dealership is currently ranked #8 nationally of 'pre-owned retailers' by Auto Dealer Monthly.
ecarlist serves +/- 500 auto dealerships, including the largest Chevy dealership and the largest pre-owned Lexus dealership in the nation. They have been marketing their product for less than 2 years but they have recently expanded their offerings to include the following features and benefits;
Inventory Listing Management
ecarlist provides more than just inventory management capabilities. They are one of the most powerful listing tools available. ecarlist provides multiple ways to input inventory including feeds from a 3rd-party dealer service vendor, integration with an auto dealer's legacy DMS, or vehicles can be entered manually making the process as painless and intuitive as possible.
Powered by Chrome Systems, one of the most powerful and accurate VIN decoders available, after the initial decode all auto dealers are required to input in most cases is the price, mileage and description (if desired). Their VIN decode even provides available OEM colors and options for that particular make and model. Total and seamless integration with both CARFAX and AutoCheck allow the option to choose the source of a vehicle's history report, and ecarlist is one of the first platforms to provide a quick-view CARFAX Highlights summary directly from the vehicle's inventory page. No more wasting time opening and reviewing CARFAX reports!
ecarlist's description builder develops a seemingly-customized description about a vehicle without spending all of the extra time. Simply choose the categories to describe, click the check box by the respective description and finalize the arrangement of the descriptions. One of the things that make their description builder unique is the ability to save custom phrases and paragraphs-no more opening up word documents to copy/paste favorite openings or paragraphs. Simply type them once, save them to the ecarlist description builder and access them for all future listings. Their description builder will even update the year, make, model, price and mileage automatically into customized paragraphs, which will save even more time!
Auto Dealers can preview their ad and send their inventory to all of the major sites using some of the most recognizable and acclaimed templates available with just one click. If an auto dealer prefers a unique, or more customized template, or they feel that there are some better web sites that they would like to use to advertise their inventory, ecarlist will help them achieve what will work best for their dealership.
With ecarlist's integrated, multi-site lead management system, auto dealers can view and reply to leads from many of the most popular marketing mediums directly from their ecarlist account. Auto dealers can choose to view leads based on date received or by vehicle. Even monitor all email communications in thread based formatting.
Email Lead Management
Their included E-mail Lead Management system also allows auto dealers to respond to customer questions, accept/reject/counter eBay Best Offers, and avoid unwanted spam e-mails, which will ensure that auto dealers only receive e-mails that pertain to their business.
Market Price Analysis
The days of only monitoring a competing dealer's specials down the street are over. The dealership of today must understand the National marketplace and must buy/price their inventory accordingly. There is an old saying, profit is made on the buy, not the sale. With ecarlist's integrated Market Analysis system -- dealerships are better equipped during the buying stage as well as the marketing and pricing stages. Auto dealers can use ecarlist to assess trade values looking at many forms of data including Black Book and eBay Motors Market Data. Auto dealers can compare inventory with 'real-time' VIN matched vehicles selling online and see exactly what competitors are asking.
A new feature to be added to ecarlist in the near future is their Classified Market Analysis including Auto Trader and Cars.com. Also, improved inventory monitoring and inventory price alerts.
Free Inventory Export to Multiple Sites
From eBay Motors and AutoTrader, to Cars.com and Edmunds, auto dealers can list their vehicles to all of the most popular online advertising platforms with just one click.
Free Window Sticker Creator
Auto Dealers can access customized window stickers and buyer's guides, on demand, with their Window Sticker Creator. No more waiting for 3rd-party providers to put stickers on inventory, no more waiting for graphics companies to deliver stickers a week after they are ordered and no more paying someone else for something that auto dealers can do themselves for ¼ of the cost; simply click and print.
eBay LOCAL Integration
ecarlist is one of only a handful of eBay Motors Preferred Service Providers out of the 30,000+ vendors that eBay works with.
Free Craigslist Integration
Auto dealers can easily send all their inventory to one of the world's largest free, online marketplaces. With more than 7 billion page views per month and an opportunity to selectively market vehicles in most of the country's largest metropolitan areas for free, Craigslist is something auto dealers will definitely take advantage of. A full color ad, branded with dealership banners will ensure that vehicles get the attention they need from potential buyers.
AutoTrader Tag Line
The eCarList AutoTrader Tag Line, provides the ability to precede each ad with a customer, sales-person specific greeting, that should increase the likelihood that a potential customer knows who to ask for to eliminate confusion on the showroom floor.
Integrated Lease Quoting System
Auto Dealers can populate their ads with auto-generated lease quotes using generic, make-specific or franchise-specific lease criteria (money factors, residuals, terms, etc.). No more manually entering terms on the back-end, no more guessing what the lease payment might be-ecarlist does the work for the auto dealer.
DMS, CRM or Other 3rd-Party Integration
Duplicate entry, switching back-and-forth between various web pages, reconciling an auto dealer's inventory and corresponding leads all take up valuable time that should be better spent selling vehicles and making money. That is why ecarlist works so diligently to provide integrations with all of the necessary sources that auto dealers utilize on a daily basis. However, ecarlist goes one step further by ensuring the data from/to these sources are seamlessly integrated into the auto dealer's account, so the dealer can manage and access everything they need from ecarlist without compromising functionality or accuracy.
Manheim's Online Vehicle Exchange (OVE) Integration
Lower transaction costs, guaranteed payment, exposure to a national audience of buying dealers...if an auto dealer wholesales any of their inventory, OVE is a necessity. ecarlist is proud to be one of the first 3rd-party partners of OVE by providing their auto dealers the ability to list and manage their vehicles directly to this new auction marketplace. All auto dealer clients need to get started is an eCarList account and their Manheim user-name and password.
24-Hour Technical Support
At ecarlist, customer support is paramount. From their technical support and sales representatives, to their executive officers, their goal is that virtually anyone and everyone on their team is accessible when their dealer clients need them most.
Customized "Framing" Upon Request
Framing is a great way to make ads stand out, establish an online image and preserve dealership-specific branding. Additionally, framing decreases the likelihood that a dealership's 'likeness' or vehicle photos will be used in a fraudulent manner by making it difficult for individuals to steal photos without spending a prohibitive amount of time editing them for use as their own.
VIN Explosion Back-up
Although, ecarlist took great care when researching and partnering with the most robust and accurate VIN decode company available, no VIN decoder has 100% success decoding VIN's. That is why ecarlist is the first, and to their knowledge, only company around that cares enough about their auto dealer client's time and the accuracy of their listings to employ a back-up VIN decode system. In the event an auto dealer's initial VIN decode fails, eCarList wil automatically generate a VIN decode request with their back-up VIN decode partner, VinPOWER.
The diverse and robust series of integrated applications that make up the ecarlist marketing platform provide a variety of solutions for the auto dealer clients of SiSTeR Technologies that SISTeR does not have the skills or resources to replicate. Similarly, ecarlist determined that the specialized skill sets of the SiSTeR development team and the extensive video platform that they have matured in the market represented a sufficient barrier to entry to deter ecarlist from trying to replicate their video solutions. The resulting integration of the complimentary applications/ platforms of the two automotive advertising vendors are a prime example of why automotive advertising agencies are turning to technology driven marketing platforms vs. individual applications to get more for less.