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90% of Car Shoppers Want This: Are You Prepared?


There is no doubt that buying a car looks completely different than it did 5 years ago, 1 year ago, or even just a few months ago. And if buying a car looks different, selling a car has even more variations. From learning how to leverage video to trying to figure out if TikTok is where you should be, automotive sales is ever morphing, and you need to stay relevant to stay in the game.


So when you see that 90% of automotive shoppers want this specific experience, that should grab your attention. 


90% of Automotive Buyers want the option to at least start the process online. This is past the basic action of “shopping” your SRP online. These customers stated that they want to start the process online to save time at the dealership. 


What does that look like? Here are some elements that are a must for these online buyers. The more these are optimized, the better the experience will be for the customer.




If your customers hit your homepage, you need a few specific elements not only to draw their attention, but also to ensure they have the ability to engage with your dealership at any moment:

  • Clean, easy to read and navigate homepage. Think whitespace and drawing attention to specific elements more than filling up the page with generic offers.
  • Chat tool--make sure you have one! And once you do, remember to adjust the settings so that if a consumer collapses it, it will stay collapsed. There is nothing worse than trying to shop and having to consistently play whack-a-mole with multiple pop-ups. If you are looking for a proven tool that is inexpensive and manned by automotive experts, check this one out!
  • If you have offer banners (especially in the hero image at the top, which I do not suggest), ensure they are the most relevant offers and make sure you limit these to no more than four. Truly, interaction with offer banners dips to almost 0% after position three.
  • Finally--- If your advertising is working, the majority of customers will be directed to either a specific landing page or your VDP/SRP pages. These are where your attention should be in regards to offers and incentive messaging.


Digital Retailing


This magical term that has been around for years has really ramped up popularity since March 2020, and should be a staple on every website. If you have been holding out, waiting for a newer, easier to use version--stop. I am willing to bet that if you look at your competition, the majority of people have this tool on their site. And if not, the 3rd party endemics do. So, if you have one, we’ll talk about optimization. If you don’t, it is time. People want these tools, but more importantly they expect them on the site. 


Elements to optimize with digital retailing:


  • Is it on your VDP, SRP, or both? There have been some studies that show placement on just the VDP is more effective, as customers have done some additional research and are ready to look at numbers. 
  • Are you marketing your digital retailing tool on your website? You cannot throw a widget on the site and hope customers will know it is there. It is incredibly important to market this. Create skinny banners on the SRP and VDP pages that highlight your online purchasing process. Create a digital banner for the home page that drives to a landing page that reviews the process. Which actually leads me to the next point….
  • EDUCATE YOUR CUSTOMERS. You can market to them, but you also need to walk them through the process so that they know what to expect. If you create a landing page, think about having a staff member create a video that walks the customer through the process. Show them that they can start the process at home, and then pick up where they left off at the dealership. Help them to realize how easy the process is and how it will save them time. And then make sure you have the process at the dealership to make it the best experience for the customer.
  • Finally--remember--the tool is not a lead generator. It is a tool for the customer. You may not see a huge influx of DR leads initially, but you will see overall leads go up because of the tool. Be patient, and know how to measure the success of this tool.


Manage Your Process


When was the last time you went through the process on your own website? OR better yet, when was the last time you had a friend or family member outside of the industry audit your online buying process? 


It is an eye-opening, and sometimes ugly, experience. But this is incredibly necessary. You may think the process is great, but when you go through it, you will see the holes, the missed leads, and the lack of information noted in the CRM. If a customer spends 30 minutes on your website filling out forms and interacting with the DR tool, only to come in and have to start from square one with your salesperson, there is something broken in your process that needs to be fixed. 


If you are missing leads because of the sheer influx of internet traffic and interaction, check out this solution as well. Leads are responded to by live automotive agents, and as impressive as this solution is, it is more affordable than you would think!


What To Do Now


  • Inspect your website and complete a mystery shop. Have someone do this who is outside of the industry and can really point out the pain points you may have missed
  • Optimize your Digital Retailing Tool and educate your customer
  • Make sure you are marketing your online purchasing experience. There should be messaging on your social platforms, SEM, website, etc….

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