Manheim now has its first all-digital auction location: Manheim Tucson.
The Arizona auction is Manheim’s first to incorporate a 100% digital format, utilizing a four-lane setup where cars are parked in designated spots and sold to buyers both physically present at the facility and online.
An auctioneer has them up for sale digitally through oversized monitors that include enhanced images, barcode price scanning and condition report info.
Buyers and sellers can participate in person at the auction or online through Manheim Simulcast.
There was a ribbon-cutting late last month and the first sale had more than 300 bidders (online and in-lane combined) with a conversion rate of about 76%, Manheim said.
Though this facility is the first to go 100% digital, Manheim has rolled out more than 100 digital-only lanes at its locations throughout the country.
“Bringing the excitement of the auction to clients in a live, all-digital format is a key move in our broader digital strategy,” Manheim president Grace Huang said in a news release.
“With advanced vehicle information and imaging, we are able to deliver digital solutions that create greater confidence and efficiencies while delivering a safer auction experience for everyone,” Huang said.
Manheim Tucson will have its Digital Debut Grand Celebration on Wednesday, which will include a Total Resource Auctions sale at 9:30 a.m., the auction’s regular sale at 10 a.m., giveaways to the first 200 dealers in attendance and special sale incentives.
“Our team was so excited to be part of creating a new chapter in our company’s history,” Manheim general manager John Duplanty said in a news release. “Our main priority was to work closely with our clients, preparing them for the change and help them realize higher conversion and retention performance. This has been a big win for our buyers and sellers.”
Added Vinnie Da Cruz of Simply Sell it Now in Tempe, Ariz., “I see the benefits and efficiency of digital lanes. No emissions in the lanes, and the increased safety that comes with moving to a digital auction help prevent accidents from happening in physical lanes.
“In an industry such as the reselling of automobiles, to not accept technological growth is almost certain death,” he said.
Safety certainly continues to be a pressing topic through the entire auto auction industry.
Future of auction industry?
Looking forward, Manheim said this type of all-digital auction site may be an early peek at what the wholesale digital marketplace might look like down the road.
Wail Abushaar, dealer principal at Tucson’s Pioneer Automotive, said in the Manheim news release: “I think going with digital auctions — without driving the cars through the lanes — is a brave move the rest of the auction industry will look up to.”
Along those lines, ADESA announced this winter, as reported by Auto Remarketing correspondent Arlena Sawyers, that it had launched what it calls VirtuaLane at 20 of its North American auctions, where certain lanes at the auctions are digital only.
These efforts continue the strategy by Manheim, ADESA and the independent auctions, alike, to blend digital sale technology with brick-and-mortar sales.
At Manheim, 43 percent of sales in 2018 — and over 2 million transactions — involved a digital buyer, the company said.
“And we have seen that accelerate in recent years,” said Derek Hansen, Manheim’s vice president of off-site solutions, during a press conference at NADA Show 2019.
Similarly, at rival KAR Auction Services, which owns the ADESA auction chain, the breakdown in the wholesale mix is about 50-50 online/digital versus physical auction, chief executive Jim Hallett told Auto Remarketing at NADA.
Likewise, companies like Auction Edge and others are providing independent auctions with simulcasting capabilities and the ability to facilitate online/remote transactions.