The automotive industry has drastically changed in the past years. The digital transformation has occurred and many dealerships have successfully embraced a new way of doing business. Are you ready?
Automotive Consumers are Shopping Differently and They Have Choices Like Never Before
The automotive industry has developed from an on lot to a hybrid or fully online process. Your consumers are making their purchases from your website, from 3rd party endemics from your lot, and from phone/emails/texts. Consumers are shopping differently and they have choices in their process like never before.
Companies like Carvana, Tesla, and Litha’s Driveway have not only provided new, fast, and easy ways for consumers to purchase a vehicle, but they have proven successful in creating new expectations. And those expectations are not only held to their specific companies. Expectations of quick customer service, online transactions, and at-home deliveries are more popular than ever, and the dealerships who are keeping up are the same who are winning.
This has led to an increase in competition as well as a blurring of traditional boundaries between vehicles, parts and accessories, used cars and service departments. Consumer expectations are higher than ever before—they want more information on their phones while they shop; they want a seamless experience across multiple touchpoints such as traditional showrooms or online; and they expect to be able to research information without leaving home or office (which means that any company that doesn't invest in digital transformation risks alienating customers).
Technology is at the Forefront of Automotive Purchasing
Technology is at the forefront of automotive purchasing. It’s no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a must-have. You must have an online presence to be competitive and successful in today’s market.
New car shoppers are using technology such as digital retailing or online retailing to make their purchasing decisions, which has led to some major shifts in how consumers buy cars:
- Consumers are now shopping for vehicles online – over 90% of consumers start their research online
- Consumers are engaging with dealerships via social media - more than half of car buyers are using social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter when researching their next vehicle purchase (Altima Communications).
- Social networks like GBP matter - Reviews from sites like Google have become increasingly influential on consumers' buying behavior (Automotive News).
Have an Online Buying Process, Not Just a Widget on Your Website
Digital retailing (digital selling) is a tool to be more efficient, but having a widget on your website does not ensure that people will know your online buying process. It is important to have a clear path for a fully online purchase, make allowances for detours or off-ramps for consumers, and then clearly share all the paths with your sales and BDC team.
When creating a process, think through all the touchpoints a customer may have. How can your make these touchpoints seamless, fast, and enjoyable?
- If a customer takes action on a digital retailing tool on your website, make sure to know exactly where they left off. When you talk with them, start from that LAST touchpoint, not the beginning. They took time to enter that information. Your respect will lead to a more positive experience.
- Have a plan for what an at-home delivery and an in-store delivery experience. They should both have an educational component where the customer feels 100% comfortable with their new vehicle. Surprise, delight, and respect their time.
- F&I is still an integral part of the online buying process. Whether the customer self-selects products or has a finance specialist walk-through options via Zoom or Facetime, make sure there is a plan in place to review offerings.
Be Prepared for Digital to Take Over the Automotive Retail Space
As far back as 2017 there were over 2 million vehicles purchased using mobile devices and now we're seeing companies like Amazon come into the space because they see an opportunity due to this shift in consumer behavior.*
The good news is that you have a chance to get ahead of this trend by making sure your dealership offers high-quality online content and connects with customers on channels like Facebook Messenger or Google Business Profile. This strategy will help you build trust with new buyers while building lasting relationships with current customers who might not have thought about buying from you before but now consider it because they know they'll receive excellent service after the sale.
As technology continues to advance, it will be increasingly important for dealerships to keep up with consumer shopping trends. By incorporating digital retailing into your business strategy, you can ensure that your brand is at the forefront of technological innovation in this space.