Digital retailing in the automotive space is an unavoidable force that must be reckoned with. For many dealers, it is a sink or swim proposition. With companies like Tesla, who is famous for its approach to automotive retailing, recent announcements about closing stores only places greater emphasis on online sales.
This push toward digital retailing has become a hot topic in the past few years, but it doesn’t mean that the traditional dealership will be replaced. It only means that dealers need to adapt. There should be comfort in the data showing that digital natives like Generation Z (born between 1998 and 2010) actually prefer to shop in-store versus online. They want to touch and feel their purchases, but they also place a high emphasis on technology such as digital retailing.
In the old days, the most important strategy was to get your customer in the door. Today, the approach is more focused on getting them to your website, because this is the shopping experience customers are really looking for. Dealers who understand this and seek to proactively implement new digital strategies will be ahead of the competition.
Let Your Website Do the Work
In today’s world, 59% of car buyers start their research online. That means that most buyers are getting a lot of information from the internet before setting foot in a dealership. It is harder to sell to these customers using outdated sales tactics.
Getting current with the times involves providing more tools and information online, building effective sales funnels, and having strong calls-to-action. Digital showrooms, how-to tutorials, F&I menus and online forms and application submissions can be very valuable to converting the sale before your customer arrives at the dealership.
The goal here is to push buyers to your website, provide a wealth of relevant information, guide them through your sales funnel, and get them into the dealership much better prepared to buy than ever before in automotive retailing history.
Speed Up the Sales Process
With digital retailing, you can qualify buyers, get approvals, and even sign paperwork all online. If done properly, your BDC can transition from merely scheduling appointments, to confirming sold vehicle deliveries.
By driving many of the time-consuming portions of the transaction online, your staff can have more time to handle more customers. Spending less time in the dealership will also allow more buyers to complete transactions during the lower traffic times of the week, as opposed to waiting for the busy weekend.
Blurring the Lines Between Online and Offline
Customers want to be able to buy online. They feel powerful when information is at their fingertips. It is better if all of the information and tools they need are available on your website, but it does not mean that personal interaction is not required.
The most successful digital retailing experiences involve a seamless blend of online tools and offline interactions with live human beings. The tools and resources on your website need to coincide perfectly with your BDC and sales efforts.
A salesperson should feel very comfortable pushing buyers to the website, and then picking up again when they come back, ready to purchase. Likewise, BDC personnel should feel comfortable acting as technical support to help buyers navigate the website and progress through the sales cycle.
When all of these functions and personnel are working in harmony, great things will happen.