Thinking Outside of the (Shipping) Box: Car Sales on eBay

eBay_Car_Buying Today’s automobile buyers are turning to the Internet as the first step in researching purchasing options, as they browse prices, reviews and dealerships. But increasingly, the entire process is staying online as shoppers are led to online sources like eBay rather than their local dealership.

There are currently more than 437,000 vehicles listed for sale on eBay from a combination of private sellers and dealers.  Whether a buyer is in search of a practical Honda Civic, a retro VW Bus or a high-end Maybach, it’s all on eBay.

Sales of cars, trucks, motorcycles and parts on eBay have become so popular that eBay introduced a mobile app for eBay Motors nearly two years ago – now, more than 10,000 vehicles are bought and sold through the app each week.

One recent report found that one third of American consumers said they were likely or very likely to buy a vehicle online.

At first, this might seem strange. There are some obvious hurdles to buying a used car from an unknown entity that may be halfway across the country and won’t deliver (typically it’s the buyer’s responsibility to transport the car).  But millions have found a way around those challenges.

So what’s the appeal of buying a car online? Well consider what the typical consumer thinks about the process of haggling over price at a local dealership. Then, think about how buying a car from a distant seller may actually come with a bonus that car lovers will especially enjoy: the road trip.

Edmunds.com recently followed one eBay car buyer from initial skepticism to delight as he flew from Milwaukee to Birmingham, Ala., to pick up the Volvo wagon he bought on eBay. The seller treated him to a home-cooked breakfast and even offered a small rebate to the agreed-upon price. It was definitely more pleasant than the typical car buying experience, complete with a fair seller and a mini-vacation.

Some of the other reasons car buyers are drawn to eBay range from the practical to the frivolous. Some like how, on eBay, they can select the location of their new vehicle and avoid cars that have endured several extreme winters. Others are looking for rare collector’s cars, like this 1959 Ferrari that sold for $3.26 million.

And shopping for cars on eBay can be efficient, at least until you embark on the road trip home. Unlike dealers who want to sell you their cars and tend to focus on one or two makes, comparison shopping really is right at your fingertips on eBay, where buyers can browse by vehicle type, like SUVs or coupes, and sort by age, mileage, make, model and even engine type.

As successful as this market for cars and trucks has been to date, when you look at all the benefits to this form of car buying, there’s reason to believe it has a lot more room to grow.

If you have a site that appeals to drivers (which really could be just about anyone), you may want to consider looping eBay Motors into your site’s content. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this eBay Motors blog post for more stats and insight.