The listings are sorted from least to most expensive on the most used car websites. Presumably, the idea is to show customers they can drive away "from only" (a handful of coins). The problem is this clashes with a subconscious psychological phenomenon called "anchoring."
Anchoring is a cognitive bias where people heavily rely on the first information they come across when making decisions. In this context, if they see low-priced cars first, they subconsciously use that low price as a reference point for comparing other cars. As a result, they consider all higher-priced cars as unreasonably expensive.
The solution isn't as straightforward as flipping the order and starting with high prices. Most used-car buyers are price-sensitive. If the first thing they see are the most expensive cars, they might leave the website altogether.
So, what's the right approach?
It is not the famous "Sort by Relevance" either. Relevant to what or whom? As there isn't any obvious reference point, buyers will likely see it as an attempt at pushing cars you want to get rid of.
It is a sorting method that is balanced, transparent and customer-centric, with choices like 'Popular Cars,' 'Today's Picks,' 'Most Viewed', or "Good Deals."
"Popular Cars" can highlight best-selling models, indicating their popularity, trustworthiness, and reliability. "Today's Picks" can be curated based on seasonality, special promotions, or unique features. "Most Viewed" can present the cars that have attracted the most attention, indicating strong interest from other buyers. "Good Deal" can feature cars priced lower than similar cars on the market or those loaded with free services or accessories (but not the fake "savings" based on the made-up "was/is" price).
Adopting this approach would effectively counteract the anchoring effect and better meet buyers' diverse needs and preferences. And it would also demonstrate the honesty and transparency customers expect today!