Survey: Customers want quality photos before buying cars

How often have you browsed for cars online, only to end up frustrated by the potato-quality or completely nonexistent images? It’s a slight annoyance when you’re merely window shopping, but quality images are a significant selling point for many people. Dealer Image Pro commissioned a survey at the National Automobile Dealers Association Show earlier this year to get dealers’ opinions on photography and understand why quality is so variable between stores.

The company found that around 20% of dealers don’t believe photography is an important part of car sales. The other 80% are on board and focus on taking quality images of the vehicles they’re selling.


At the same time, a separate study found that 90% of buyers expect detailed images of the car they hope to buy. And 97% of the 3,000 survey respondents said that the quality of images played a role in their decision and negotiation tactics. The same survey found that 40% of dealers said photography didn’t help their bottom lines or weren’t sure if it helped.

Good photography is hard and expensive, and if you’re a car dealer in a place like Maine that receives a ton of bad winter weather, keeping inventory camera-ready can be a real chore. Even so, it’s clear that quality photos make a difference. It’s why sites like Bring a Trailer and Cars & Bids are so adamant that sellers use a professional photographer, and some larger dealer chains have dedicated “sets” to pose the cars.

That said, getting images is sometimes impossible, and the online car listing process is often out of dealers’ hands. When a customer orders a new Ford Bronco, for example, the SUV sometimes shows in the dealer’s inventory with stock images, even though it’s not really for sale or even present on the lot.