Joe Luppino, Manheim Interactive's COO, said Manheim has added a tool that lets dealers track their accounts online and has made more information available via hand-held computers. The company also is making its independent dealership management software available online.
Luppino said bringing Internet operations back in-house helps drive home the point that the Internet has become an important part of the wholesale auto auction business. The strategy is like General Motors' decision to wrap its e-GM unit - created in 1999 to oversee Internet operations - back into its corporate structure.
'More of a complement'"Technology has had a positive impact giving consignors visibility, giving dealers the ability to get current and accurate information and the opportunity to pre-register their vehicles online," Luppino said. "It was so intertwined in (Manheim Auctions') day-to-day operation; it is more of a complement."
Manheim Auctions of Atlanta is owned by Cox Enterprises. With 85 sites in the United States and Canada, Manheim Auctions is the largest auto auction company in North America. It also operates 22 auction sites in the United Kingdom, three in France and 10 in Australia and New Zealand.
Manheim Interactive debuted MyAccount in October. It gives dealers access to their buying and selling history and lets them track the status of open orders and vehicle titles online.
Also, the division is offering dealers access to Manheim Market Report on hand-held computers. The report provides weekly auction prices and mileage for every vehicle sold at Manheim Auctions.
Manheim Auctions consolidated its Internet and software business and made it a separate subsidiary, Manheim Interactive, in 2000. Hal Logan was named CEO. Logan now is Manheim Auction senior vice president of marketing.
In addition to the Internet operations, Manheim Interactive included Dealer Support Services, which produced Tracker management software for independent dealers.
Tracker helps small independent dealers use personal computers to perform several tasks from tracking inventory to running credit checks. Manheim Interactive expects to sell 130,000 vehicles via the Internet valued at $2 billion for its customers in 2001, a 45 percent increase over 2000, Luppino said. The company expects to increase its sales by 40 percent in 2002.
Luppino attributes the sales increase to dealers becoming more comfortable using the Internet and their confidence in Manheim Auction's commitment to stand behind each sale.
"They (Internet purchasers) are still entitled to arbitration," Luppino said.
From software to onlineAs part of the reorganization, Manheim Interactive closed its Orlando, Fla., operation, which produced Tracker. The company will integrate many of Tracker's features into a group of products available online.
It plans to test the management system in the third quarter of 2002 and launch the system to independent dealers in the third or fourth quarter of 2002, Luppino said.
Nearly 10,000 independent dealers use Tracker; the company will support Tracker through 2003, he said.
Last summer, Manheim entered a joint agreement with Berge Group, a Spanish distributor, to sell vehicles online with no physical auction, Logan said. Berge has a location that handles vehicle marshaling and inspections.
Said Logan, "It's off to a slow but solid start."