LAS VEGAS – It’s no longer enough only to know how many digital shoppers are looking at a particular used vehicle listed online, says Jeni Pecard, Cars.com’s director-data information.

“You also have to know who those people are,” what they want and market to them accordingly, she says during a J.D. Power Auto Summit panel discussion on using modern analytics to optimize used-car sales. The conference is in conjunction with the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention here.

“The used-car market is the perfect opportunity to tap into modern analytics,” says panel moderator Jonathan Banks, J.D. Power’s vice president-valuations and analytics.

That involves aggregating data from assorted sources, crunching it and getting a sense of individual consumer tastes, vehicle needs, buying cycles, financial situations and more. 

“The amount of data we have access to is enormous,” says Chad Bocklus, president and chief product officer for CarStory, an analytics firm. “We have the computer analytics to mine that data.”

That leads to assorted determinations, such as predicting when a car will sell, and for how much, he says.

His firm’s analytics indicate 50% of cars on a dealer lot sell either too quickly or too slowly. That suggests the rapid sellers are underpriced and the slow movers overpriced.

Predictive analytics can let dealers know early on whether a vehicle will linger on the lot for, say, 70 days, Bocklus says. “Technology can monitor the market and the lot (inventory) and tell you when to take action. You need to know on day 10 that a car could be sitting on a dealer lot for 70 days. You don’t want to know that on day 70.”       

Dealers want actionable insights from data, he says. “They want answers more than just more data. Analytics can democratize decision-making at dealerships.”

It also can provide a competitive edge, says panelist Kristopher Pritchard, group manager at Toyota Financial Services. “Embrace it, with caution," he says, relating an experience of two consultants from the same company on the same day in the same Toyota building recommending totally opposite recommendations. "Have the right people and processes in place.”  

sfinlay@wardsauto.com