Digital retailing has quickly advanced in automotive markets due to the limitations from COVID-19. With sudden integration for many dealerships over a short time frame, a few key principles can easily be overlooked. In his personal vehicle search, automotiveMastermind’s Director of Business Development Steve DeWitt has experienced firsthand opportunities for improvement in how digital retailing is done.
Hiccups from Fast Adoption
Selling cars online and bringing customers further into the sales funnel digitally was far from a universally-adopted practice just a year ago. Although tools were developed and forward-thinking retailers were participating already, mass adoption was only accelerated when other avenues to sales were restricted.
Of course, dealers did eventually get on board, but it wasn’t the smoothest process.
Steve DeWitt remarks, “Everyone in automotive is trying to create new processes around customer experience and different things that are going on with digital retailing. But there’s still a huge disconnect and we haven’t leveraged the lessons that we’ve already learned to really make that process even better.
“We’ve learned a lot. And, you know when this hit and everyone said we’ve got to go into digital retailing, they were kind of found flat footed, if you will. And now they’ve all jumped in with both feet, but they could get fooled by the fact that things are better than what they really are and they still haven’t perfected digital retailing or have a very strong process around it. So that’s kind of my thought.”
Consistency Affects Loyalty, Not Just Experience
A consistent message across all channels is one of the issues Steve noticed during his own car-buying journey – a problem likely caused by swift implementation. The digital retailing experience tends to be branded differently than the sales experience in the store as well as the communications with dealership personnel.
“When the pandemic first started, people quickly understood we’re not going to be able to do business in person as much and we need to go virtual. So, they jumped into this digital retailing and some of them didn’t even have a good solution. Now they’ve partnered with someone, they’re doing digital retailing, they have a banner on their website and maybe branded it and called it something like ‘Fast, Friendly and Fair’.
“But a disconnect happens when you go on to these digital retailing sites for a lot of dealers. One of the things you see is, even though I’ve started this experience of appraising my vehicle and working some numbers, on all the correspondence and communication, it doesn’t mention the same name that they have on their website.”
Research by Lucidpress reveals just how important consistent branding is. In a survey, 7 out of 10 respondents indicated that consistent branding is crucial when communicating with existing customers. It’s even more important when seeking new customers. As well, the “average revenue increase attributed to always presenting the brand consistently is 33 percent”.
Mixed messages confuse customers. A consistently branded omnichannel presence not only boosts engagement online, but increases revenue by one-third. Very little expense, if any, is required to modify messaging to be consistent, but it’s certainly worthwhile.
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