The industry website reports that some users feel the tool is adversely impacting their car promotions. One user said the tool is wiping thousands of cars off search pages, despite dealers paying for advertising with Auto Trader.
Car Dealer Magazine reports that when it checked 467,516 cars were listed on the platform but when the ‘Reserve with Auto Trader’ checkbox was ticked, just 31,090 cars remined in the listings.
The checkbox is shown after the first page of results have been shown to the customer. When the customer ticks the reservations box and selects the car listing they want to explore, a ‘Reserve for £99’ button is shown underneath the advertised price and Auto Trader’s market price label tracker.
Selecting this button moves customers to a new page that allows them to reserve the car and get a new part-exchange price, apply for finance and choose how to receive their new car.
The reservations tool is currently in beta mode, being tested. Users can see a ‘Reserve with Auto Trader’ checkbox. This filters cars available that can be reserved online.
Car Dealer Magazine reports that a dealer told them that part-exchange values are being ‘dictated’ by Auto Trader and due to the reservations features there is ‘no opportunity’ for dealers to pre-qualify customers.
Auto Trader responded to Car Dealer Magazine when the website approached it with dealers’ criticisms. They said the function is in ‘beta’ testing mode and asked dealers to be a part of the testing.
“We’ve had reservations on Auto Trader in different forms for a number of years now, and this latest test of this product is reservations in a slightly different form,” Auto Trader chief operating officer Catherine Faiers told Car Dealer Magazine.
“We are running multiple beta tests on our website and we talk to retailers about them, communicate why we are running them and then we measure the tests.
“We understand the impact on retailers, but also importantly we measure and understand how car buyers react to the changes we make.
“We’ll run this new reservations feature for a few weeks, look at the data and then decide on what to do next.”
The reservations tool is one product of a number that Auto Trader is testing as part of its Deal Builder program to enable consumers to do as little or as much of the car buying process online.
Faiers told Car Dealer Magazine that if the reservations filter doesn’t help “get the consumer to the right car for them from the right retailer as quickly as possible, it will be removed.”