September 27, 2007, 12:00 AM

Auto dealers learn to drive the web—or else

(Page 3 of 3)

Chesney attributes part of the ongoing surge in buying activity on eBay Motors to the general rise in online shopping and the increased confidence consumers have in engaging in high-value transactions on the web.

But he also attributes it to the company’s efforts to make buyers and sellers feel as comfortable online as they would at home or in a neighborhood dealer’s showroom. “The nature of the whole business is to get consumers feeling comfortable with the purchase process,” Chesney says.

For the 68% of eBay Motors transactions done across state lines, for instance, eBay offers a package of shipping programs. It also provides financing options and access to third-party certified inspectors who can confirm a vehicle’s condition. And all vehicle transactions on eBay that meet certain eligibility terms are covered by a protection plan up to $20,000 of the purchase price.

“We put more control in the hands of the buyer,” Chesney says. Part of that strategy, he adds, is to provide sellers with unlimited space for providing information on themselves as well as their vehicles, and making it possible for buyers and sellers to communicate on eBay Motors through the eBay message system.

To better serve local markets, eBay Motors earlier his year launched a service that lets car dealers list an unlimited number of vehicles at a flat monthly rate of $1,000, plus $50 when a seller and buyer agree on a transaction. About 15,000 dealers sell through eBay Motors.

Although eBay has discussed promoting new-car sales, for now at least it will stick with the higher-margin used car sales, Chesney says.

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