We’ve written about how condition reports have become more crucial than ever to the wholesale vehicle-buying process, and the reason for this is obvious. The coronavirus pandemic has forced large numbers of dealers to buy more used inventory remotely.
Within condition reports, images are a key component intended to give buyers confidence in the vehicles on which they’re bidding. Good pictures can tell potential buyers a lot about what they could be buying from a Michigan auction and shipping to their Texas store, for example.
A new investment in Black Widow Imaging, a company that specializes in imaging technology for the auto sector, underscores not only the value that quality photos can add to the car-buying equation, but also how important they’ve become to wholesaling in the COVID-19 era.
Black Widow last week said it had secured $1.5 million in private equity investment, adding to the $3.5 million it had raised previously. The money will go toward updating the company’s imaging technology and meeting inventory demands, CEO Jason Hauk said in a statement.
“Auctions and dealers are increasingly buying remotely and online,” Hauk said. “Clear, consistent and reliable imaging of the inventory they are purchasing is critical for auctions and dealers to feel assured of what they are buying.”
The shift to remote buying has not been total, however, regardless of how crisp and clear photography is becoming. Many independent auctions have reported in-person bidding is still strong. And some retailers, such as Kahlig Auto Group in San Antonio, contend that even if pictures are worth a thousand words — or millions of dollars to investors — they are no replacement for being in an auction lane.
“There’s still no substitute for actually seeing the used vehicle,” said Clarence Kahlig, president of the group. Dealers can better survey for any damage with their naked eye, he added, “and you’re not at the mercy of somebody’s grading system.”
At any rate, as auction companies and their vendors look to give remote buyers as much confidence as possible, expect the focus on making images crisper and clearer to continue. Eventually, looking at photos of cars and trucks online could seem like peering through a freshly cleaned window — if it doesn’t already.