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No letup in blitz of new products, Manheim says

Manheim plans to keep adding features to its digital marketplace in 2018, continuing last year’s rapid product rollout.

The technology-driven enhancements and add-ons are part of Manheim Digital Marketplace, President Nick Peluso’s vision of giving buyers the electronic tools to select, assess and buy the used vehicles they want — anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

Since taking the reins at Manheim Digital Marketplace in July, Peluso has been tasked with tying together Manheim’s electronic offerings and 115 physical vehicle auctions to create a seamless customer experience.

That’s a lot of moving parts, from the Online Vehicle Exchange to the enhanced Manheim Market Report. But Peluso told Automotive News the goal is simple: “We want to make it easy for our clients.”

In-person, online

Manheim created the Online Vehicle Exchange for dealers who don’t always want to bid in person for vehicles at its physical auctions. The physical auctions are under the leadership of Peluso’s boss: Grace Huang, Cox Automotive’s senior vice president of inventory services.

Manheim describes the Online Vehicle Exchange as the auto industry’s first intelligent search for wholesale inventory.

OVE’s 200,000 registered users buy an average of 380,000 used vehicles a month. With a new auto-complete feature, clients can see matching inventory prepopulate as they type in the search field, and the feature matches inventory, sellers, auction locations and attributes such as vehicle color and location.

In November, Manheim added a Dealer Direct Event sales channel that lets dealers host digital sales using inventory on their lots, without shipping it to a physical auction.

Peluso also remains president of RMS Automotive, which advises automakers on vehicle-portfolio management. RMS Automotive and Manheim Digital Marketplace jointly offer independent dealers access to automakers’ remarketed vehicles. In October, Nissan and Infiniti began offering open sale inventory to independent dealers on a digital sales platform powered by RMS Automotive while co-listing them on OVE and manheim.com.

In 2017, the Manheim Market Report was enhanced with more complete wholesale vehicle valuations. Reports now include a vehicle’s exterior color and mileage, a mobile view and the AutoGrade condition, a 1 to 5 ranking that has become a de facto industry standard. And in some cases, the valuation tool includes factory build data, eliminating the need to manually decode the vehicle identification number to determine which features, such as a winter package, are on a specific car or truck.

More coming

Peluso promises to add more digital enhancements this year, including an “omni-channel experience” intended to increase search efficiency and make it easier for clients to find inventory.

Also planned this year: improvements to Manheim’s mobile app and to the company’s sellers’ tool. Manheim also says it will enable customizable digital storefronts for buyers and sellers.

“It’s no longer important where the car is,” Peluso said. “It’s about helping put the right vehicle in front of the right buyers at the time they need it.”

Remarketing, much like the rest of the auto industry, is increasingly driven by data and technology, Peluso believes.

He declined to disclose the number of programmers and product developers at Manheim and its parent except to say data technology continues to be a company priority.

The Manheim Digital Marketplace growth plans reflect an ongoing race throughout the remarketing sector, with rival auctions also scrambling to meet clients’ demands for more data and analysis to support decision-making and business plans.

The biggest player is Manheim, which is part of Cox Automotive, itself a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., of Atlanta, with annual revenue of $20 billion. Cox Automotive has 34,000 employees in 200 locations.

Rivals

Manheim has access to automotive data collected by dozens of Cox Automotive brands — including Autotrader, Dealer.com, Dealertrack, Kelley Blue Book, NextGear Capital, vAuto and Xtime — as well as its data generated by handling 7.5 million annual used-vehicle transactions.

The second largest player is KAR Auction Services Inc., which operates 250 physical sites between its ADESA mainstream auctions and its Insurance Auto Auctions division for salvage auctions. In 2016, KAR launched a data science solutions operation to counter Manheim’s push into data collection and analysis.

In October, ADESA bought the half of TradeRev that it didn’t already own to help it expand the digital side of its auctions, while retaining the key members of the original staff. In 2014, KAR bought a half interest of TradeRev.

As the two auction giants invest heavily into data, sector consolidation continues with medium and large companies buying smaller auction groups, independent auctions and online startups. That includes the 2017 purchase of Auction Broadcasting Co. by America’s Auto Auction, the third largest U.S. auto auction group.

In addition, some independents are cooperating by sharing resources and data to boost their competitiveness. The prime example is ServNet Auction Group, an alliance of 22 independents, all members of the National Auto Auction Association.

Source: Automotive News

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