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Vaccines and digital payments pave the way for car buyers to return to normal

For commerce to return to normal, much is riding on the development of a vaccine and digital payments. The “How We Shop” report by PYMTS.com sheds light on what consumers are thinking about as they change their shopping routines. In collaboration with PayPal, PYMTS.com surveyed 2,163 U.S. consumers about their shopping and payment preferences.

In short, the data revealed that much had changed due to COVID-19. While the report talks about specific industries, these insights can also help steer your dealership in how  to handle this new age of digital transactions and changing consumer preferences.

These are the essential takeaways we identified for dealers.

Online Payments are Here to Stay

According to their research, those managing the survey found that the more customers grow used to shopping online, the more likely they are to maintain this behavior long-term. COVID-19 is being identified as an event that is going to change the game when it comes to commerce permanently.

For dealers, the takeaway is that if you are currently facilitating digital payment processes, it’s very likely that a significant percentage of your consumers are going to expect this to become a permanent part of the purchasing process. Specifically, it’s important for POS purchases in parts, service, and even deposits left on vehicles.

So, if you are looking for this to be a temporary solution due to the virus, you may want to seek out ways to try to incorporate these systems long-term as much as you can.

The Availability of Digital Shopping Options is Impacting Shopping Choices

The report revealed that 57% of consumers now say that the availability of digital payment options would impact their choices of where they shop. Not only are online payments likely here to stay, but almost 60% of shoppers will also only interact with brands that offer digital payment options.

This is likely the combination of two things: how customers are putting their safety first, and the fact that people are getting used to digital payments for the long-term. For dealerships, digital payments will likely become a sought after part of the customer experience. Those who embrace it will likely be ahead of competitors who are slow to adopt this tactic.

Related: Corina Diehl on building her auto group, digital retailing, attracting more females into the auto industry (video)

Normalcy Will Return Only With a Vaccine

Today, there are many conflicting reports about what consumers are looking for when it comes to returning back to normal. While news reports show that people are returning to their pre-pandemic routines, statistics tell a different story. The survey revealed that 58% of consumers said they would need to know that a COVID-19 vaccine would be readily available before returning to their everyday routines.

For many, health is still a greater priority than commerce at this point. Unfortunately, the time that it takes to return to a pre-pandemic normal will depend on developing a vaccine, which will take much more time and frequent trials. Dealers must remember that many of the pandemic factors are outside of their control. The goal is to identify what you can do to meet customer needs still while keeping everyone safe. It may help to set up a list of what you can control, and what you can’t. This step allows you to only focus on the aspects of your business that you can manage.

Low Stock is A Major Source of Frustration

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting supply chain chains and a variety of logistic strategies around the world. This situation has led to many businesses running low on product inventories. The top two common challenges that consumers are facing is a product out of stock (50.3%) and limited quantities (37.2%). As a result, 31% of shoppers are frustrated by limited quantities at large retail stores.

This is an interesting piece of news for dealers, as some news outlets have discussed how many dealers are facing low stock quantities on the lot—especially toward the end of August. So, while many customers are hit financially, many are still looking to purchase, but are being met by inventory challenges. The difficulties will involve determining the right balance of inventory you need to have ready to go on the lot while keeping in mind the expenses needed to do this.

All Generations are Looking for Digital Payment Options

Almost 60% of individuals across all demographics are interested in digital payment options. For Generation Z, the percentage is 71%, while Baby Boomers and seniors are 45.7%. In the past, digital payments and online purchasing processes have many times only been associated with younger generations. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has pushed almost half of the Baby Boomers to adapt to digital and online payment options. To guide older customers and new car buyers through the process, it would help if you and your team invest in user friendly tools. Additionally, don’t forget to ensure staff is available to walk customers through the process.

Related: How to Maintain Brand Consistency with Digital Retailing

Final Thoughts

Within the last decade, it seemed that digital payments were becoming more of a factor in purchases. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up their adoption. While you may still have customers who prefer traditional purchasing processes, it’s important to understand your audience.

Many are still attempting to social distance and do not want to resume their shopping patterns as normal. Therefore, it makes sense to consider adopting digital payment processes for the long-term. This step involves using the right tools, educating your customers on new processes, and empowering your staff to help them through these new payment systems.

Visit PYMTS.com to download and read the “How We Shop” report.


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Chanell Turner
Chanell Turner
Chanell Turner is a contributing writer and investigative journalist for CBT News.

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