The pandemic rocketed the automotive industry forward one to three years in accepting digital retailing. Years before COVID, we knew Carvana and Vroom were changing the way consumers bought cars. The option to buy online affected dealerships some, however, we weren’t comparing apples to apples.
Consumers did, and still do like to sit in a car before they buy it. With the majority of customers buying cars traditionally, online retailing was a secondary focus. Just one year ago, merely having a web inventory and an active social media presence made your store competitive in the digital space.
Well, now, everything’s changed.
Why Does Automotive Digital Retailing Matter?
Google published some astonishing statistics about online buyers. Their data showed that 84% of Americans are shopping for something in any 48-hour period. Additionally, 63% of all shopping began online. The research went further, examining trends when people buy specific products. Those in the market for a car took to Google to gather information. Said consumers ranged from 20 to 68 years old. Over time, these shoppers researched the best dealership, brand, and trade-in online. We can infer the end result. The consumer likely bought a car they chose from their research. The vehicle was likely purchased from a highly-rated dealership, also found online.
Here's the kicker: that data is from three years ago. What do you think quarantine did to online sales numbers? What about online information gathering? Customers are more researched and internet savvy than they've ever been before.
Your customer is starting online, whether they end their final purchase there or not. Today, the average person's attention span is about 8 seconds. Proper digital retailing will make or break you when you've got 8 seconds to show the goods and get to the next step. E-commerce giants like Amazon created a monster with a debit card. Consumers want fast information with one click. Moving online customers through the process quickly is essential. Of equal importance, is the blind integration of the third-party application. Transitioning from your dealer site to another platform should hardly register with the shopper. Platforms like an accessory selling system can't be ignored when the need to increase profit margins is more critical than ever.
Tips to Get Sales From Online Car Shoppers
What a Salesperson Can Do
Statistics show that customers put in hours of research before contacting you. For that reason, a salesperson must talk about their product confidently. The need to know your vehicle like your Social Security number is vital. Your customer wants information from you at the speed of a Google search; don't let that scare you. Transparency goes a long way with today's consumers. Conversational selling will help you connect. Letting your personality shine through the computer screen via email, chat or even a phone call enhances memorability. If 73% of car buyers will drive farther for a great salesperson, then online rapport is important. It still involves people skills but in a digital format.
What a Dealership Can Do
Treat the online car sale with the same attentiveness as you would an in-person sale. The days of “form submissions today and follow-up contacts tomorrow” are gone. Dealerships that emphasize online ease and real-time answers will come out on top. Make sure that your website is easy to navigate and that the ability to instantly chat or easily send an email is front and center to all consumers. Some of your consumers might have questions about your inventory, so make sure that all the vehicles are on your site and that you have all important links on that same page to avoid them going anywhere else for the information. If you want to easily increase sales revenue, make sure that a link to accessories is available for each car page so the customers can take the time to look at floor mats, seat covers, and other things they might want. The inventory images and pages on the website should have the same types of opening sales pitches the salespeople use for a walk-in.
Invest in Training
Car salespeople come from all generations, so ensure that your staff can navigate an online sale with confidence. Quick typing is as important as inventory awareness. Don't forget that 8-second attention span! Set your salesperson (and your store) up for success by tapping into the multi-billion dollar accessory industry. When you need to stand out in a crowd the size of the internet (literally), showcase well-accessorized vehicles with 3D images, interactive websites, online shopping carts, and a personable online communication style.