The proliferation of online car shopping and digital retail in the automotive industry has presented both opportunities and challenges for dealers. While customers are gravitating towards e-commerce in increasing numbers, many still prefer an in-store experience, making it difficult for dealers to divide their focus between the two groups effectively.
On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Matt VanDyke, president of Shift Digital and former CEO of FordDirect. During his time as an OEM executive, VanDyke used his deep understanding of the needs dealers have in today’s technological landscape to direct the automaker’s programs in a way that benefited both retail and manufacturing. After transitioning to his current leadership role at Shift Digital, he has overseen the development of crucial digital tools and research. Now, he discusses the latest online car shopping trends affecting store owners across the country and the strategies needed to navigate the evolving automotive e-commerce market.
1. Dealers need to adjust to current market conditions, which may mean cutting fat from web pages and simplifying the online car shopping experience.
2. Customers are no longer interested in checking model availability now that inventories have recovered. Instead, dealers should provide a digital retail experience that allows the client to navigate their website as quickly as possible.
3. Trust is a key reason that lead conversions have slowed in recent years, as perspectives on issues like pricing differ between dealers and consumers.
4. While the number of online car shopping devotees is rising, store owners should not neglect the quality of their in-store experiences. Rather, they should see digital retail as a means of speeding up the buying process and reducing time spent inside the dealership.
5. Digital retail is extremely fragmented in the automotive sector, meaning that dealers must be prepared to leverage multiple platforms, work with a wide variety of partners and engage with customers far outside their original markets.
"One of the first pieces of advice is, when you're evaluating your website, do it on your phone because that's how 75% of your customers are going to do it, and you think you got the greatest chat provider in the world, but as soon as you launch the website...all you can do is close out the chat window because it's taken over your screen." — Matt VanDyke