They understand their customer, and it’s resonating. Some dealerships have acknowledged that growth comes through evolution, and embrace what the industry’s statistics are saying. 43 percent of car shoppers view the dealership as an educational institution according to the Car Buyer of the Future study by KBB.com. As well, 70 percent of millennials have already decided on a make and model before visiting the dealership for the first time.
Those stats speak volumes about how to make cars available to customers. A segment of car buyers would prefer to buy their car online, never setting foot inside a dealership’s retail facility during the process. And in models with overwhelming success, there’s a clear path from the initial lead to delivery.
Those who have done online retail well only provide brand new or certified preowned (CPO) vehicles in the process. Offering anything less than thoroughly-inspected vehicles for the online car shopper results in a sour experience.
In addition to high-quality inventory, a vast selection is necessary. The online car buyer has no loyalty to the dealership initially, meaning they will continue their search elsewhere if it’s not found in your listings.
Documenting every vehicle’s condition is a critical step, and it’s best done visually and supported by a thorough write-up. Not only are the car’s options and features displayed, but the flaws as well. Anything of note should be documented and shown to the potential buyer, emphasizing your transparency in the online sales process.
It boils down to a single idea: don’t give the buyer a reason to return the car based on its condition.
More than half of car buyers – 56% – still prefer to negotiate on price. Online car shopping isn’t structured for them. Instead, pricing that shows itself to be fair and competitive is appealing to those who abhor the haggling practice.
Knowing the market and pricing vehicles accordingly is essential. It doesn’t have to be the lowest price, though; you’re offering a simplified, time-saving process that your customers appreciate.
Click to Buy
Making the decision to buy a car sight unseen is tough for most people, especially a CPO vehicle. That means there must not be any objections to the purchase process. Frustrating experiences here will cause people to click away from your page.
Allow your shoppers the same ease of purchase as in your dealership. Your online form should be welcoming, visually appealing, and simple to navigate. Ensure your customers are aware their information is secure at all times.
Delivered to Your Door
Some customers will embrace the totality of online shopping in an Amazon-esque style. That means delivery to their door, without ever leaving the comfort of home. Others may prefer to receive their online car purchase at the dealership, but the option of home delivery adds a level of convenience that can entice buyers.
A money-back guarantee is imperative with online car sales. In some rare instances, the buyer may not be comfortable in the car. In others, the customer simply wants an out. The rate of returned online sales can be expected to be extremely low, while rates of vehicle exchanges may be slightly higher.
It’s been done well in various places. Coggins Honda Jacksonville has a streamlined online purchase process that all starts with a “Buy Now” button. Paso Robles Chevrolet in California is another example of a great online sales structure, albeit without the to-your-door delivery option. Most importantly is providing a simplified and non-aggressive process for getting the first click, taking the deposit, and completing the financing.
Manufacturers have recognized the need for online retailing also, evidenced by Chevrolet’s ‘Shop-Click-Drive’ campaign that Paso Chevy uses. Cater to those customers who prefer to shop for cars from the comfort of home, and see a boost in your sales.