In light of the latest pandemic consumer trends, in particular the boom in ecommerce and higher customer experience standards, many dealers are looking at how they can capitalize on these trends to stand out from the competition in 2021 and beyond. Here are some ideas for increasing your sales in the “new normal” automotive market.
Digital shopping experience
In line with the ecommerce boom all across the retail industry, consumers prefer to shop online for their vehicles now too, especially when it comes to millennials. As McKinsey reports, “less than a third of younger consumers prefer conducting car sales & aftersales in person at a dealership.” And just as in other sectors of retail, consumers prefer an end-to-end digital shopping experience. This means they want to completely avoid walking into a dealership if they can help it.
As you explore an online retailing experience for your business, make sure you offer some of these “must-haves” to fulfill your customers’ expectations:
- Inventory search and wishlist features
- Accurate monthly payment calculator
- Full credit application with the customer’s bank of choice
- Accurate trade-in valuation
Vehicle delivery options
As a result of customers’ demands for contactless services, vehicle delivery became increasingly available during the course of the pandemic. But, as with other ecommerce conveniences such as BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) and curbside pick-up, car shoppers are expected to demand vehicle delivery as part of their customer shopping experience.
It’s a great idea for dealers to continue this option for car shoppers as it may mean the difference between having them shop at your dealership or somewhere else. To bring more value to customers and increase conversion, consider having your dedicated sales staff drop off vehicles to customers so they can educate them on vehicle features and answer any questions they may have.
Get active on social
According to Statista, “There was a significant increase in the average time U.S. users spent on social media in 2020: 65 minutes daily, compared to 54 minutes and 56 minutes the years before.” Moving forward, they expect the time spent social networking to remain stable. If you’re not already active on social media, it’s time to dust off your social platforms and beef up your organic and paid social media strategy to capitalize on these trends. Here are some great tips on increasing your social media presence by the experts at the Digital Marketing Institute.
Increase your Internet sales team
Once upon a time, the Internet departments of dealerships catered to a small segment of car shoppers who were technologically inclined. Since the onset of the pandemic, as NerdWallet reports, dealers have had to rely more and more on this team — and after the pandemic, this trend is expected to continue. If you haven’t already beefed up your Internet sales team, it’s time to train your sales staff on providing car and pricing details and taking care of financing via email — with very little, if any, personal or phone contact.
Boost your email marketing
While there may be less foot traffic in dealerships, sales teams can take comfort in knowing that email marketing campaigns are having more success than ever. After all, according to Omnisend, there’s been a 31% increase in year-over-year open rates and 22% increase in conversion rates during the “post-COVID” period. With this in mind, email should be a vital part of your lead-nurturing strategy, especially if you have an online retail platform that provides you with leads.
While a lot has changed in the automotive industry over the course of 2020–2021, experts say the pandemic likely only accelerated trends that were already in place; dealers and OEMS — and retailers in general — have been moving toward improvements in digital marketing and retail for years. If you haven’t implemented these best practices yet, there’s never been a better time to do so, especially if you’re looking to take your post-pandemic sales to the next level.