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4 non-traditional inventory sources for auto dealers

hand cleaning the front of a car

The auto industry continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of dealers by providing new inventory sources beyond the traditional method of physical auctions. Let’s take a look at four alternative ways that you can source vehicles for your lot that meet your inventory needs, save you time, and bring in revenue.

Live-streamed auto auctions

Sometimes getting the right inventory requires making purchases from multiple physical auction sites and even buying out of state, but doing that in person isn’t always easy or practical. The good news is that most major traditional auctions now also provide an online auction option. That even includes some of the top independent auctions, like XLerate Group (dba America’s Auto Auction) and ServNet Auction Group.

In many of the online apps, dealers can review run lists, add vehicles to a watch list, set notifications, and place bids—making this option easier and more convenient, all without leaving your office.

There are a number of live-streamed options where the AFC floorplan payment is integrated with the online platform. Check out ADESA US or ADESA Canada, depending on your location, or CarMax Auctions.

Salvage auctions

Not all the vehicles on a salvage lot are wrecked, damaged, or inoperable. In fact, salvage auctions are a great source of inventory as they offer both clean and clear titles, and lightly damaged vehicles. Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) runs live auctions with cars in the lanes as well as a virtual auction option.

Also, AFC floorplan financing is an integrated payment option when you purchase from IAA. Among the automotive financial services provided are floorplans that cater specifically to rebuilders and dismantlers, as more dealers begin to diversify into those fields.

Online-only platforms

In the online-only model, sellers can launch their own live auctions from their smartphones and buyers get first access to fresh trades from franchise dealers. Plus, dealers can enjoy the full end-to-end service experience from anywhere you’re conducting business—your home, your office, or even on vacation! Many online-only platforms offer incentives including lower buy fees, streamlined floorplan financing, inspection services, and transportation.

Here are two great options to explore:


A fully digital and highly efficient dealer-to-dealer platform that features a 24/7 “bid-ask” marketplace, BacklotCars serves dealers in 46 states across the U.S. BacklotCars offers dealers direct access to fresh trades and seamless integration not only with AFC floorplans, but also with vehicle inspections and transportation.


With their mobile app that mimics the physical auction setting, TradeRev allows dealers in Canada to launch and participate in live, real-time 45-minute auctions directly from their devices. Users can complete the entire transaction within the TradeRev app, including inspection, title and arbitration services, instant live bids at appraisal, transportation—and floorplan financing through AFC.


Don’t overlook buying directly from your customers as a tried-and-true inventory acquisition channel! In fact, you should be actively advertising in your community and on your lot that you want to buy used cars and trade-ins from your customers. When you end up with vehicles you don’t want to retail back on your own lot, you can always sell them through a dealer-only online platform like BacklotCars or TradeRev. The chances are good that someone will see an opportunity, even if it’s not you.

When you are looking for inventory for your lot, don’t forget to leverage sourcing options beyond the traditional physical auctions.

Disclaimer: Use of auction sources is subject to third-party agreements. AFC does not guarantee the ability to use any auctions and examples are for illustrative purposes only. Dealers should consult their own advisors to make independent business decisions regarding inventory sources.