Dealers often prioritize their in-store activities over their digital retail operations due to a lack of trust in modern technology and today’s car buyers. However, not only are both approaches inextricably linked, but many buyers prefer to use a combination of the two when shopping for vehicles. This puts storefronts without a flexible sales process at a disadvantage when serving these consumers, whether online or inside the dealership.
On this episode of Driving Solutions, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Chase Abbott, vice president of sales at Cox Automotive. Abbott is an automotive sales expert with two decades of experience managing both online and in-store sales. As a leader at Cox Automotive, he has helped dealers access crucial tools such as VinSolutions, Dealer.com, Dealertrack, and more. Now, he discusses the relationship between brick-and-mortar commerce and digital retail, as well as the need for more flexibility in the car-buying journey.
1. Digital retail is a must-have to serve today’s consumers. Not only does it reduce the amount of time spent on the sales process, it also improves the dealership experience for buyers. An overwhelming majority of dealers also say that online sales have positively impacted their businesses.
2. In many cases, online retail exacerbates an already existing trust gap between consumers and dealers. For example, 97% of customers report having to repeat steps in-store that they already completed online because their dealers refuse to trust information submitted digitally.
3. While dealers may prefer to rely on in-store tools to fact-check their customers, this disadvantages buyers who share their details honestly and can negatively impact their perception of service quality. Retailers should instead rely on their digital tools to accurately fact-check customer information and ensure their teams can access this data in-store.
4. While in-store shopping is still very much in vogue, Consumers overwhelmingly want to use digital retail tools with the full support of their automotive industry. These tools also have benefits inside the store, as they allow dealers to tailor the shopping experience using customer data.
5. To serve today’s buyers, dealers must adopt a hybrid approach that allows seamless transitions between the online and in-store experiences and stop controlling how customers interact with their businesses. Reducing friction and improving flexibility between the two is key to sustaining long-term growth and driving brand awareness.
"...I think that there's just so much more to gain if you build trust with the consumer. There's so much more profit to be made from that trust versus the control that [dealers] are used to having. And that control still exists; you just gotta get tools that give you the control that you're used to having in the showroom, online." — Chase Abbott