Just as consumers cast wider nets to buy used cars and trucks, so too are more dealers looking farther afield for inventory.
It’s a reality borne not just from the rise of digital auctions amid the coronavirus pandemic but also from a sheer need for vehicles to sell, as high demand and low supply converge.
Earlier this spring, Jason Pettigrew, used-car manager at Cain Toyota in Ohio, found himself bidding on vehicles in Pittsburgh, Nashville and Orlando — all simultaneously.
“You have the ability to be in multiple states, and [at] multiple sales, and I’ve never utilized that before,” Pettigrew said.
“Cross-state bidding has just about doubled from what we saw pre-COVID,” said John Hammer, chief commercial officer of KAR Global and president of the company’s ADESA auction unit. “You’re seeing people shopping across [states] way more than they used to.”
Hammer said buyers have recognized that instead of traveling to one auction and spending hours there, it’s advantageous to stay in their stores and monitor several auctions at once.
“So it’s been a very efficient way for them to buy cars,” he said. “And we’ve seen a lot of folks — even some that probably never thought they’d buy digitally — that now realize buying digitally and shopping outside of their home market area is really productive for them.”
ADESA has seen dealer registrations for its digital platform increase by about 25,000 since the pandemic began, Hammer said, calling it a “very material number.”