Modern Merchandising in Today’s Dealerships

On this week’s episode of Auto Marketing Now, Brian Pasch talks about some of the most common headaches that dealers face when it comes to modern merchandising.



Speaker 1: You’re watching Auto Marketing Now with Brian Pasch.

Brian Pasch: Welcome to Auto Marketing Now. On today’s show, we’re going to talk about modern merchandising to engage, retain, and increase sales online. Of course, we’re going to have our popular email grab bag. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started with today’s show.

Brian Pasch: Dealers are always frustrated with this simple problem. They look at their Google analytics, they see they get 20-, 30-, 40,000 people a month to their website, and then they count up their leads or their phone calls and they say, “Man, why are people not engaging more with my products and services?” And so today I’m going to talk about three simple things to change on your website. And for some of you it’s going to be hard to believe. It’s that simple. And for others, you’re going to resist me. And for those who want to test and try, well, you’re going to be well rewarded.

Brian Pasch: Let’s talk about the first and most important headache that I see in modern merchandising. Would you be so kind as to humor me a minute? I’m not picking on anyone, but go to your VDP. Pick any new car in stock on your website and count up the call to action buttons that are on the page. Some dealers have get ePrice, Get best price, offer your price. There’s a button to ask a question, to schedule a test drive, to value your trade, to get preapproved and well the list goes on. There are seven calls to action and then you have this annoying pop-up chat box that comes up. You minimize it, comes back up, you minimize it, you come back up. So there’s one or two more calls to action, let alone the click to call or the phone numbers that are on the top.

Brian Pasch: Take a look at any other eCommerce site and basically the design is simplified to move the consumer further down the funnel. Now do I believe there could be a time where there’s one call to action button? Maybe far in the future but surely not now. But most likely three, four max is all a dealership needs. If you think about it, consumers do a lot of research online. By the time they get to a VDP. If they’re falling in love with that VDP, they want to know how much that vehicle is and possibly the payments surrounding. They may be very interested in scheduling a test drive and well, they’re probably interested if they could afford it, meaning am I going to get approved. Now with digital retailing, things like, what’s the price, can I afford it, am I approved, and what my trade is worth is all done within the digital retailing button.

Brian Pasch: It’s so funny when I see a digital retailing button, whether it’s connected store or a Roadster or BuyNow from CarNow or Gubagoo or Drive, now called Modal. That one button does all the things that the other buttons do, but the dealer is definitely afraid of removing those other buttons. Well they’re deathly afraid because nowhere on their website do they explain what that new digital retailing button does. Is it a funny, do you have digital retailing on your VDP? Is there a banner? Is there a video? Is there something that clearly defines what the button does? Let’s just say you’re ABC Toyota and you’ve made it ABC fast lane. The fastest way to buy a car. With one click, we can get you pre-approved, estimate your trade, show your monthly payments and schedule a test drive. If that was your marketing, if that was clear on the website, clear on the VDP, then when the button says start fast lane, well the consumer would know, I can do all those things but that one button. Yet dealers don’t have any merchandising, they have no clear brand promise, they haven’t named their digital retailing, so they have the fast lane button and then they have get preapproved, schedule a test drive, value my trade, ask a question. And it’s like really? Are we committed to a confusing consumer experience?

Brian Pasch: Now my first challenge is simplify your VDPs. The second thing with modern merchandising, and this can be hard for some people to accept, is you have to cut down the number of forms those CTA buttons use. And let me give you my favorite button, which is schedule a test drive. Most dealership websites on the VDP, they have schedule a test drive button. And when you click on that schedule a test drive button, a form pops up. What’s your first name? Your last name? It requires only an email address. We’ll get back to that. There’s a space for a phone number and it may say when do you want to come in? There are some broken dealership websites that actually ask what vehicle you want to test drive yet they’re on the VDP, they’re looking at the car, they press the test drive button. There’s other broken dealer websites that ask a whole lot of other questions. Do you plan on leasing or buying or where are you in the funnel? I’m like, come on. They just want to come in and test this drive car.

Brian Pasch: Now, if we were really honest, getting back to email, no one in your dealership likes email. In fact, if you’re really honest, you’re kind of crappy on the phones, but you’re really crappy on email. If you ask any salesperson, would I rather be talking to a consumer on the phone or emailing with them? They’ll say, I’d rather talk to them on the phone. But let’s look what you’re doing with a scheduled test drive. When you click on the schedule test drive button, here’s what you’re screaming. I will not do business with you. I will not answer your question. I will not allow you to schedule a test drive unless you agree to do it via email. So interesting. Say Brian, if they press that button, they want the form because they could’ve just called us. No, no. Don’t assume that.

Brian Pasch: Modern retail today, if someone had a schedule a test drive button, what I believe is they want to talk with somebody right there. Right in chat. How about a button pops up, a chat box that says proactively. “Hi, I’m Brian. I’m here to schedule a test drive. Who am I speaking with?” Oh, Jim. “And your last name, Jim?” Pasch. “Great. Just in case we get disconnected, what’s your phone number so I can confirm your appointment?” Person gives a phone number. “Great. When would you like to come in?” Okay, I like to come in Saturday at 10 o’clock. The chat operator can just pause and say, “Let me check. Great. That time is available. I will have our sales manager just text or call you to confirm. What would you prefer a phone call or a text?” It’s that simple. No, we have to put up the form. We have to send it to the BDC. We have to chase the consumer.

Brian Pasch: Hey, point number two is how about engage the consumer when they’re on your website instead of chasing them? There are buttons on many websites that have a steering wheel, which I’m not sure if people even know what it is, and then an ask button. Both ask and the steering wheel pop up a form. Somebody is on your website. You’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars to get them and they’re like, ask, do you think they’re expecting a form which has no ability to tell them when someone’s going to answer their question. How about moving the ask button to a pop up? “Hey, this is Brian. I see you have a question.”

Brian Pasch: You see, the chat companies are complicit because they didn’t think of this, but I’ve been thinking of it. And I’ve shared it at the Digital Marketing Strategies Conference in May of 2019. I shared that less than 40% of the people who click that test drive button or ask button fill out the form and less than 50% of the people respond. So you get a 20% or less engagement rate. I’ve seen as low as 6%.

Brian Pasch: But guess what happens when you pop up a chat dialogue box and listen, push the text of the button to the chat operator so they know which button they pushed. Guess what happens? You go from a 20% engagement rate to a 60%, 70%, even 80% engagement rate. The others who are saying, I want more leads. No, here’s what you want. You want more two way conversations within market shoppers. You want to know their names, their phone numbers. Yeah, email. Sure, you can ask for it, but you would rather get their first name, last name and phone number all day long. But that’s not what your website is doing.

Brian Pasch: Now, I’ve been working with Dealer Inspire, Dealer eProcess, Liveperson formerly Contact At Once, CarNow, Gubagoo, ActivEngage, CarChat24 all the major chat companies. And guess what, we are doing live testing right now of moving CTA buttons to live conversations, and the results are amazing. The key here is that the chat and website operator have to work together to push the label of the button to a chat operator.

Brian Pasch: Now at the upcoming Automotive Analytics and Attribution Summit in Palm beach, November 17, 18, 19, I’m going to be sharing some of the latest results of people who have moved from forms to engagement, and there’s some really cool ways where people have still kept the form option for those who want forms. And I can’t wait to share with you the data. If you want to double your website conversion… Yeah, I said double, but not like some outrageous claim that no one ever does. You want to double your website conversion, move more of your CTA buttons to two way engagement instead of CTA buttons, the forms. You’ll be amazed. Now you’re going to need to retrain your BDC. You’re going to need to be able to escalate chats to sales managers. Because guess what, these are real people who want to buy a car that you’ve been just brushing off and basically telling you can go somewhere else. I’m not going to answer your questions now. You have to work on our time at some later time instead of now.

Brian Pasch: So my second point is move from chasing consumers who want to do business with you to engaging with them on your website. Contact your chat companies, contact your website companies and if you have any questions, just email me,, and I will escalate for you if needed the conversation with your website company and chat provider.

Brian Pasch: The third thing I want to talk to you about is the photo galleries. Take a minute whether you like to admit it or not, go to Carvana’s website. Go take a look at a VDP and one thing you’ll notice simple call to actions, but more importantly a 360 spin engaged photo gallery. You wonder why people don’t spend more time in your website. You wonder why they don’t ask more questions or they ask silly questions is because your photos stink. I mean there are more and more people who are using beautiful photo booths. But tell you the truth, I find it cumbersome for me to keep on going through photos. Oh, what was that photo? I’ll go back and forth, back and forth.

Brian Pasch: Listen, Carvana didn’t get in the top 10 used car sales on a joke. I’m not saying they’re profitable, I’m not saying they’re going to survive. I’m just talking about connecting with consumers and selling cars remotely. That’s what I’m talking about. Merchandising. 360 spin technology. It’s what other retailers do, especially high value products, yet we are selling $30-, $50-, $100,000 cars and and we’re still taking photos with snow and garbage in the background. We’re taking photos of products with other cars in the background. Man, it’s a mess. And yes, there’s great companies that white out all the mess or so you a photo booth, but I’m going to tell you taking 50 photos and making the consumer go back and forth and remember where the photos are. It’s kind of cumbersome. 360 spin is perfect.

Brian Pasch: How do I know what works well here? Let me tell you my story. I ordered the 2020 Stingray that really innovative design and look at the car was amazing, but I went to the 360 simulator. I pick colors interior, exterior, rims, and and accessory options and I just had so much fun. I said I love this car. I didn’t sit in the car. I’ve never touched the car. I ordered my Stingray and it will be arriving in a few months. But I did it all primarily because that 360 simulator allowed me to really take a look at that car from all angles, and I think that’s really important for you to understand.

Brian Pasch: PCG has partnered with Spincar because we’ve found that not only the 360 spin technology, but the retargeting product that they offer is well offering unprecedented results for our clients. Better retargeting, better display, better engagement, better conversions, and it’s not that expensive. That’s what’s amazing to me. They give you a turnkey package to photograph cars in minutes, minutes, and you have a 360 spin technology that saves consumers time, increases engagement, and allows you to precisely retarget people based on engagement. I’ve been talking about retargeting engagement for years using Google events. They’ve put it all together in an amazing package.

Brian Pasch: And so if you’re looking for modern merchandising strategies, if you’re looking to engage consumers who come to your website, three things: simplify your VPs, make sure you have a clear call to action that stands out. It should be the only color, either red or green is a clear call to action button. Number two, move more CTA buttons to two way engagement instead of forms. And three, implement 360 spin technology for your cars. Make the car the star of the page.

Brian Pasch: As an anecdotal thought, you always wonder, “Hey, why are consumers so focused on price, price, price, price, price, price?” Because the whole VDP has four buttons all about price. Get your price, unlock your price, get your ePrice, give us our best price. And we kind of forget the car is the star. We simplify to VDPs and say, “This is our price and this is what you qualify for. And these are the accessories and options and FNI products.” Guess what happens, people negotiate less because you’re not focused on price. Give a fair price, merchandise it right, let them fall in love with a car.

Brian Pasch: If you’re a dealer listening to today’s show and really need help with merchandising, you’re struggling. I’ve given you the three best ways I’ve seen a significant lift in engagement and leads. But if you need help, just shoot me an email, I’ll be more than happy to connect you with the right people to help you implement a modern merchandising strategy to sell more cars in a digital age.

Brian Pasch: And now for today’s Email Grab Bag Question. Dealer Principal asked me, “Brian, how do I know how much engagement I’m getting from my chat and texting platform? Meaning I don’t get a lot of leads in my CRM, but it kind of is puzzling because every visitor is offered the opportunity to chat or text.”

Brian Pasch: It’s a really great question, and it really depends on your chat company. For example, certain chat companies always install Google Analytics events when they install a chat platform. For example, it’s not uncommon for car now who complies with the PCG standard for Google Analytics Events to always have events firing into GA. So if I know the dealer has CarNow, I just go right into the Google Analytics account. I go to behavior, I look at events and then I can see how many times a conversation started, how many times the consumer went back and forth.

Brian Pasch: This is really important data because keep in mind that leads are only sent to the CRM if it’s enough information regarding a question. Like if somebody says, “Hey, I’m interested in price to buy a car and it’s after hours,” the chat operator is going to ask for their name and their email or phone and then they’ll package that up and send this in for a lead. But there’s a lot of questions that say, “Hey, what time are you open?” “Are you closed on Sunday?” “How do I make an appointment?” And the chat operator can, you know, send the link directly to the hour’s page or send someone directly to the service appointment page or the test drive page. And these aren’t leads because well you’re just doing what the consumer asks to engage and serve them.

Brian Pasch: So keep in mind that the number of leads that you get are reflective of how much you answer on the website. Meaning if you’re a one price store, I would expect less chat leads because if your whole marketing, if the whole merchandising is saying, “Hey, we’re one price store, this is our best price upfront. We don’t negotiate. We don’t pay our salespeople commission,” then you’re not going to get a lot of simple questions like, “How much is this car,” or you’re not going to get a lot of, “What’s the price,” or, “What’s the ePrice?”

Brian Pasch: Now when somebody has a one price store, sadly, they put check availability even though the consumer assumes that that car is available. But they put check availability on the VDP because they want leads. I want to encourage dealers to consider the advice in this whole segment about moving check availability to a two way engagement. It could go something like this. The check availability button is clicked. The message check availability is sent to the chat operator. The chat operator says, “Hey, I’m here to help you check the availability of this car. Who am I speaking with?” Brian. “Okay, last name?” Pasch. “How can I help you?” It’s like, well, is this car available? The chat operator can say, “It will just take me a minute to look that up. In case we get disconnected, what’s your mobile phone? Because I’ll text you the answer.” We get their mobile phone number. The chat operator waits a second. “Yes, this car is available. When would you like to come in for a test drive or would you like our sales manager to call you?”

Brian Pasch: You see what I just got? I got their first name, their last name. I got their phone number, and I didn’t make them wait. I answered their question. I got what the dealer wanted, the contact. The consumer got what they wanted, and then the chat operator can move them right into a test drive.

Brian Pasch: If the consumer starts asking more detailed questions about engine size or whatever, no problem. Would you like me to transfer this conversation right to a sales manager? You’d be surprised how many times people say, “Yeah, I’m here on the site. I’d like to ask some questions.” Or if they’re at work, they may say, “No, but you can have the sales manager call later.”

Brian Pasch: Keep in mind that chat engagement or chat leads is very tied to merchandising. If you have very, very low leads and you really think that more people should be messaging with you, take a look at the Google Analytics engagement data. If the engagement data is very low, you may have a merchandising problem, you may have a operational issue, or the chat software really isn’t working the way you thought it should. So looking at events and then step back and look at how you’re implementing chat on your website.

Brian Pasch: Thank you so much for that question. If you have a question and you send it in and I use it on the show, I’ll send you a copy of my latest book Just Faster: A Complete Discussion On Digital Retailing. Thank you so much for watching today’s show. We’ll see you next week on Auto Marketing Now.

Speaker 1: Thanks for watching Auto Marketing Now with Brian Pasch. This has been a JVF Business Media production.