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Dealer Forward: Creating a seamless digital retailing experience at your dealership

Digital retailing has become an embedded aspect of the car buying process, making a positive impact on 90% of dealerships, according to a recent Cox Automotive survey. However, there is more to be done before dealers can provide a truly seamless experience between online and in-store car sales.

On this episode of Dealer Forward, host Brendan Reardon, associate vice president of sales at Cox Automotive, is joined by Colin Wickstrom, dealer partner at Wickstrom Auto Group, an Illinois-based dealership selling Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram vehicles since 1984. The two discuss digital retailing strategies for the retail automotive sector and the importance of providing a seamless customer experience across online and in-store operations.

Key Takeaways

1. Wickstrom notes that his dealership has relied heavily on technology to improve the customer journey, replacing traditional tools and steps in the process with innovative solutions that offer more convenient, enjoyable experiences. 

2. Higher efficiency in terms of in-store sales is, for most car dealers, the ultimate goal of implementing and refining a digital retail approach. Wickstrom notes he was able to both improve internal efficiency and provide a better customer experience by taking steps to ensure buyers were in contact with just one representative throughout the entire purchase process, as opposed to speaking to multiple employees who may not communicate with each other. 

3. Meanwhile, whether conducted online or in-store, managers oversee the entire buyer journey from behind the scenes to guarantee that the dealership is ready to close a sale the moment a customer commits to purchasing a vehicle.

4. Since the process is now less stressful, Wickstrom’s car shoppers feel they have better control over their experience and place more trust in the business to provide excellent customer service. This has increased the dealership’s gross revenue, led to higher close rates, and improved sales penetration.

5. Data is crucial to improving the digital retailing experience at any business. Cox Automotive’s products, including AutoTrader, Kelley Blue Book, and, reach seven out of ten internet car shoppers, making them a critical tool for the automotive sector. Wickstrom attests that the firm’s platforms offer unparalleled access to consumer information, delivering actionable insights that drive results for both the dealership and the consumer.

"A lot of us are afraid of that...You know, everyone [at our dealership] is working in concert together and leaving the salesperson with that client the whole way through. And we're still accomplishing all our sales penetrations in terms of volume, but especially in terms of F&I products and getting the revenue we need to run a great business." — Colin Wickstrom, Wickstrom Automotive Group

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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