Buying Cars at Auction: Why Dealerships Should Use Online Auto Auctions

April 30, 2020

Team ACV




Buying Cars at Auction: Why Dealerships Should Use Online Auto Auctions

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Used cars up for dealer auction

Now, more than ever, efficiency is critical for the success of your car dealership. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed a need for better ways of doing things. Nowhere is that more clear than in the inventory sourcing process. As a dealer, your goal is to get the right vehicles for your dealership and for your buyers when buying cars from an auction.

You may be asking yourself—how do car auctions work for dealerships? 

Dealer online auto auctions can give you the chance to see if you won without leaving your showroom. This ability helps you grow your wholesale used-car operation by leaps and bounds. It may be the time to incorporate digital car auctions into your operations. Learn the benefits of online auto auctions, what they offer, and how misconceptions could be holding you back from success.

Key advantages of online auto auctions 

Learning how to get into dealer auctions can get you the inventory you want at your car dealership. From timing to the ability to be more flexible, check out a few of the advantages.

1. Faster turnaround

In 20 minutes, you can do at an online auction what might have taken you a few hours at a physical auction lot. Online auctions go faster, and dealers can participate in multiple auctions at once.You have the opportunity to get the cars you want, in less time so you can get them into your customer’s hands faster.

With online auctions, you can see thousands of auctions in real-time. This helps with your inventory for wholesaling used cars. Filters can assist with the type of inventory you’re looking for—and you’ll get a notice when it hits the auction block. You could source vehicles by mileage, location, year, make, model, types of vehicles, and more. Compared to the traditional price book, there is no doubt up-to-the-minute pricing data is more effective.

2. More Flexibility

Industry experts recommend automakers stay as agile as possible during these uncertain times. Planning is key and dealerships should consider the pandemic's likely impact. Dealerships should also take into account the unpredictable economic, policy, and financial markets.

You can use the flexible nature of online auctions to stay on-site and optimize your time. These auctions are open 24 hours a day from any connected device. For example, TJ Stipanovich of Pecheles Honda was in Jamaica for his wedding when he used online auctions to set up transactions via his mobile phone.

Finally, the online auction process works for about any inventory type. Dealer auto auctions used to focus on offloading low-value trade-ins. Now, you can find everything from compact value cars to those in the luxury category.

3. Mitigate your risk factors

Buying and selling wholesale vehicles is a time-consuming process. With a good online auction, a car leaves your lot only after it sells. This reduces the risk of a vehicle getting damaged during transport to the auction site.

The option of contactless transactions instead of live auctions has never been more important. A quality online auto auction platform can sell your vehicles without personal contact (as long as the staff takes the right safety measures).

Taking in trade-ins is often a gamble, one that dealers often have to take to make a sale happen. But, an online auction platform can help you find a buyer for your trade-ins before you bring them to your lot. Customers at ACV Auctions can use our live appraisal feature to find a buyer (and a price) for a vehicle as part of the trade-in process. You don’t have to get stuck with inventory you can’t sell or overpay for a trade-in.

Why Dealers Should Pivot to Online Auto Auctions for Wholesaling

Car dealer auctions differ from public auctions. You'll need a dealer's license issued by the state, to take part in the dealer auction. Online auto auctions give used car managers easy access to see what thousands of wholesalers have to offer. This makes it easier to find the inventory you need.

Streamline your wholesale vehicle purchasing process using ACV as an intermediary. Dealers and wholesalers that are purchasing in significant volume need to be confident in what they’re buying. ACV is a trusted online auctioneer. Our thorough condition reports and pictures give buyers the same confidence as seeing the car in person.

Concerns with Online Auctions (That You Actually Shouldn’t Sweat)

As a dealer, you may have some concerns going into online auto auctions. But don’t fret—we have the answers you are looking for. 

ACV is unmatched when it comes to online auctions for dealers. Our innovative technology provides an incredible experience for consumers looking to sell and dealers who are looking to buy. 

Not being able to see the inventory in person

A great dealer auction platform provides visuals and video for everything you would need and want to check on a car. ACV offers the ability to view over 60 images per vehicle, view a video of the undercarriage of the car, and hear the sound of the engine, letting you get under the hood without getting dirty. Buyers can see exactly what they're getting and there is very little, if any, ambiguity. High-quality vehicle condition history reports let you buy and sell to your customers with confidence.

Spending more time at an online auction

Inventory management is already a considerable task for dealers. Great platforms do the work for you. If you’re selling, you should be able to hand your keys to a car inspector and they handle the rest. 

If you’re buying, then in 20 minutes, you’ll know if you won the bid. There is no need to wait all day to see what you have and what you don’t have. With customized filters and alerts, you only see the inventory you need and want on your lot. You won't have to scroll through a sea of sedans you won't bid on.

Lower margins for my vehicles sold at auction

Are lower reserve prices on vehicles a gateway to lost margins? In short, no. Starting the pricing at a lower level exposes your inventory to a larger audience on the platform. It also inspires them to bid. As the buzz builds, the expanding audience will generate more bids at expected margins.

Ready to Reap the Rewards of Online Auto Auctions? Start today! 

Online auctions provide a path for your dealership to ramp up or divest inventory. They are fast, safe, and trustworthy. You can spend less time, complete more transactions, and achieve greater success by buying and selling through online auctions.

ACV is the leading dealer-to-dealer digital wholesale marketplace. Every month, ACV helps dealers nationwide buy and sell tens of thousands of vehicles. Ready to get in on the action? Register for a free ACV Auction account to try our full-service marketplace for dealers.

Not quite got it all figured out yet? We’ve got you covered. Check out our tips on how to become a car dealer.


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  2. Credit Karma. “How to buy cars at auction” Retrieved May 2022 from