INNISFIL, Ontario -

A big shift has hit the wholesale market, sparking discussion and initiatives among dealers and auctions, alike — multiplatform selling.

Multiplatform selling is gaining steam, as more and more dealers and others in the industry warm to the concept of having vehicles loaded for sale on one channel simultaneously appear on other channels available for bidding or purchase.

Brad Hart, industry veteran and chief operating officer of TradeRev, talked a bit about the plusses of multiplatform selling during a panel discussion at the 2014 Auto Remarketing Canada conference in March.

Hart says multiplatform selling will cut down on buyer time in lanes and online searches as it “eliminates the need to surf multiple channels for product.”

Hart said this does help dealers buy, of course, but also has the potential to make bidding more competitive as more eyes see the same vehicles.

That said, as for what’s on the horizon, Hart says he “most certainly see multiplatform selling being made available to dealer sellers.”

The Developments

One of the most recent developments for this push occurred In early March at the NAAA/CAR/IARA event in Las Vegas, where in a joint announcement, Manheim, ADESA and the independent auctions said they have made significant progress toward the creation of a multiplatform bidding solution that would facilitate simultaneous bidding on vehicles listed on multiple online auction sites.

The statement from these auction parties says that the proposed multiplatform solution is different from any other technology solution currently available in that it would allow a consigned car to receive bids from multiple online auctions from the moment the car is offered for sale until the time the car receives the winning bid.

A multiplatform steering committee was also formed by Manheim, ADESA and representatives from the U.S. independent auctions. This committee will oversee the development of the industry-wide initiative.

There has also been a technical committee formed by industry representatives, who are approaching the final design of the architecture of the multiplatform bidding solution.

Additionally, the steering committee has brought in Auto Auction Services Corp. to build and maintain the hub technology used to facilitate the distribution of the inventory and the synchronization of the bidding activity between the multiple online platforms, the statement said.

This is just one development among many as the industry pushes toward multi-platform selling and the changes that are bound to come with it, such as standardization of condition reports.

In mid-January, U.S.-based Auto Auction Services Corp. announced a new industry standard for vehicle condition data reporting — developed in partnership with Manheim — that is designed to foster consistency throughout the business.  

Hart said the industry must find “a balance between standardization and competitive differentiation.”

“Customer report technology improvement and the ability to create the virtual vehicle is a competitive advantage and will come from different channels. So, I am all for standardization but also for innovation.  May the best condition report win,” Hart explained.

An Auction Perspective

Interestingly, Matt Rispin, owner and partner at North Toronto Auction, already has direct experience with the multi-platform selling model.

In 2009, North Toronto Auction launched multi-platform selling with the wholesale platforms AutoGavel, OPENLANE (pre-ADESA ownership), OVE and SmartAuction.

“We were very successful, and it was a nice complement to our existing procedures.  Then two of the platforms underwent major changes, and it wasn’t worth the efforts because frankly our customers just weren’t selling cars,” said Rispin. “Bottom line, they didn’t feel the service of multiplatform selling was worth it.  We laugh, because four years later it is all new again.  I guess things have come full-circle and consignors are evaluating their options again.”

The bottom line: If multiplatform selling and bidding become the norm, buyers and sellers are in for some big changes.

Rispin explained first off, “the thought process is that the sellers will gain more buyer exposure, and the buyer will gain the convenience of a larger inventory.”

That said, he noted he is always cautious when competitors start working together.

“I believe in Canada; the various auctions supply very fair fees and excellent service which the buyers and sellers enjoy.  Competition between the auctions is the reason for this,” he said. “I’m interested to see how competitor cooperation effects the industry.   In the end, I think we all believe that our customer’s success will be our success.”

At North Toronto Auction, Rispin said they haven’t heard much talk from consumers on the topic, but their ears are to the ground.

“Our customer’s haven’t asked us directly about it, so we are in a cautious wait and see.  That being said, we have built our business by working with our customer’s to achieve their goals.  If we start hearing about interest, we will take the next steps,” he concluded.

For more on the latest developments in strategies for selling, stocking and sourcing used vehicles, see the Auto Remarketing Canada May/June issue set to hit the Web this week. The Technology Issue covers digital trends and strategies as well as info on new Web-based tools that are helping dealers otpimize their pre-owned performance.