There’s a big issue that dealerships are running into with their websites. Consumers are visiting dealership websites, sure — but they aren’t staying on those sites for an extended period of time. Consumers have high expectations for your dealership’s website. If your dealership’s website is unable to fulfill those expectations, then consumers are going to go to a site that will. 

What do Customers Really Want?

Now, you might be asking yourself: Just what the heck are these expectations? Allow me to explain…

When consumers visit a website to make a purchase, they typically go through the different phases of the shopping journey (or the purchase funnel): the discover phase, the research phase, the consideration phase and eventually, the purchase phase.

The discover, research and consideration phases are the quintessential stages that consumers consistently go through when they’re “shopping around” for different goods and services. website

Something to keep in mind is that “shopping around” doesn’t necessarily have to consist of an actual purchase. It’s the experience of looking for a good or service, getting information on that good or service and making calculated decisions based on your research.

Most e-commerce websites possess the capability to “shop around.” Amazon.com is a prime example (no pun intended) of an e-commerce site that  HYPERLINK “http://perq.com/what-drives-engagement-on-dealership-websites/”fulfills every consumer’s need to engage with different stages of the funnel.

Consumers can seek out a particular product, evaluate different brands, look at reviews, compare different vendors and then make a purchase. There’s little to no denying that it’s a near-perfect e-commerce website. It possesses nearly everything a consumer could possibly want in an e-commerce website — just short of a live person offering direct assistance.

What the other E-Commerce Sites are Doing Right

Given Amazon’s popularity and prominence as an e-commerce powerhouse, it’s not surprising that most consumers compare other websites they shop on to Amazon. Obviously, consumers aren’t making direct arguments about how much better Amazon is to ABCStore.com — but consumers certainly want to be able to shop on other websites the way they do Amazon.

Why do you think websites that emulate Amazon’s shopping model are so popular? Overstock, eBay, Wal-Mart and Jet are great examples. Because of this, many other smaller e-commerce sites have followed suit as well.

This type of shopping experience is what many consumers have been known to expect — which is why there are still quite a few dealership websites out there who seem to fall short. Although dealership websites will often list their inventory, the shopping experience itself simply doesn’t compare to that of a modern e-commerce site.

Even though it’s entirely feasible to conduct an entire car purchase online, most consumers still prefer to complete the full transaction in person — where they can look at the car in person, take a test drive and, of course, talk to a live person while they’re filling out paperwork.

You’d think this would equate to consumers wanting to do everything in a dealership, but that’s simply not the case. Consumers still want to do all of their shopping around online, in the comfort of their own home, all on their own.

Although it’s up to your dealership to provide the resources, consumers like being able to conduct research and make decisions without the guidance of a salesperson — in the very beginning, at least. Consumers want the opportunity to calculate totals, get trade-in values and check out pricing. They don’t want it handed to them.

Really, the only difference that should be observed between any popular e-commerce website and your dealership’s website is that e-commerce websites allow for full transactions and your dealership’s website just focuses on the top and middle of the funnel.

All that being said, if you’ve found that your dealership’s website doesn’t fulfill any of your consumer’s self-service research needs, perhaps it’s come to evaluate what it is your website needs.

Fix Your Websitewebsite

Here are three common problems that many dealerships encounter with their website (and how to fix them):

  1. Your Dealership is Only Optimized for the Very Bottom of the Funnel

Even though most dealerships don’t typically have an option to purchase a vehicle directly from their website, their sites often still cater to those solely at the bottom of the purchasing funnel. Considering just how many consumers are conducting research online, it’s simply foolish to lock yourself in like that.

Instead of encouraging consumers to schedule a test drive right away or see if they qualify for financing, your dealership’s website should provide resources that better cater to those at the top or middle of the purchasing funnel too! After all, the majority of e-commerce websites out there (your Amazons, your Wal-Marts, your Overstocks), provide consumers with the ability to do research.

Many consumers are simply trying to figure out what it is they genuinely want — the type of vehicle they want, the brand they want, the services they want — and so on. Consumers are conducting research within their local community dealerships to see what’s available — so they aren’t even close to making any significant purchasing decisions (financing, trade-in, test drive, etc.).

So, what can your dealership do to ensure that its website is catering to consumers in higher stages of the purchasing funnel? Simple. Add resources that your consumers will find useful. During the beginning and middle stages of the purchasing funnel, consumers require a basic understanding of your dealership’s inventory, pricing and policies — and by basic understanding, I actually mean that they want as much information at their disposable as possible. The more information you can throw up on your website, the more options you give your consumers to find what they need.

For each inventory listing, list out different features, warranties and if applicable, mishaps with the vehicle. And when it comes to pricing (which is often something that precedes consumers entering the bottom stages of a purchasing funnel), consumers want a clear but concise understanding of how your dealership came up with a vehicle’s specific pricing. These are usually best presented in the form of videos and images. It makes things easier to understand and naturally, more engaging. 

  1. Consumers Have No Choice But to Talk to Someone

It’s a pretty well known fact that most consumers don’t like being forced to have a conversation with someone — especially when they’re in the early stages of their purchasing journey. The general grievance that most consumers have with talking to someone early on is that they’re being forced to make a decision — often without taking the time to determine what it is they want.

It goes without saying that, no matter your income level, purchasing a car is a big deal. Cars cost a lot to purchase and to maintain — so why wouldn’t a consumer want to be cautious about where their hard-earned money is going? In addition to not wanting to feel rushed, consumers (once again), like having the ability to conduct their own research.

They don’t want an outsider’s opinion swaying their own perception of what they might consider a good or bad vehicle — or even a good or bad deal. Consumers like being in complete control of their “destiny,” so they want to make all their own decisions.

Still, purchasing a car IS such a big decision, so many consumers do prefer to speak with someone in-person before signing on the dotted line. However, many consumers don’t want to be forced to speak with someone in those initial stages.

One thing your dealership could do is simply provide the option for consumers to reach out to your dealership. It can be in the form of a phone number listed on your website, in the form of a button that leads to a contact form, or even in the inform of a chat pop-up that simply asks if you’d like to talk to someone – anything that  HYPERLINK “https://www.cbtnews.com/ilana-zur-grab-attention/”will help to nab a consumer’s attention.

Either way, giving consumers the option to reach out adds another layer of control to a process that could get swept away very easily by the dealership itself. Not even once do we see companies like Amazon force their customer service staff upon its consumers. Your dealership shouldn’t be any different. 

  1. Your Website Isn’t Guiding Them Throughout the Rest of the Journey

Once your website is optimized for the full purchasing journey and consumers are capable of helping themselves through the majority of your website, you should encourage your consumers to move from stage to stage.

For example, if a consumer is nearing the end of the research phase, you’ll likely want them to make some minor decisions regarding their top vehicle picks or even what they could possible afford. It’s one step closer to them making a final purchasing decision and signing on the dotted light. Sites like Amazon already do this by showcasing “Items that you might like,” or “Recommendations for You” on the homepage.

They even take it a step further and send emails to account recipients suggesting the very items (and similar ones) they were looking at online. Your dealership’s website can do something very, very similar.

Once you’ve conquered those common problems, your dealership website will be on its way to looking and acting just like a top-tier e-commerce website. The sooner you evaluate your website, the better it’ll be able to engage with your consumers on a deeper, more human level. 

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