As if advancements in technology haven’t already been shaping retail for years, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are changing more rapidly than ever before. Not only has ecommerce boomed to unprecedented levels, but customers’ expectations for their experience with businesses in all sectors has also risen dramatically. And these trends impact not just how consumers expect to order their daily latte but also how they shop for cars.
If you want to make sure your dealership continues to grow in the waning days of the pandemic and in the new economy to come, it’s important to make sure customer experience is top-of-mind as you put together your new post-pandemic business strategy. Here are some ideas to inspire your customer-centric planning.
Offer an end-to-end online retail experience
In line with consumer trends across all retail sectors, automotive shoppers are now demanding an online retailing experience, and one that’s as comprehensive as possible.That means dealerships who allow customers to complete the entire order process online are far more likely to be able to steal market share.
Ideally, an online car shopping experience should allow users to search inventory and see vehicle information in detail; get accurate monthly payment estimates; complete a credit application with their lender of choice; receive an accurate trade-in valuation; and save cars they’re interested in on a wishlist they can visit later.
A tech-savvy dealership
While more and more consumers are hoping to avoid interacting with dealerships, foot traffic won’t altogether stop — and customers are going to expect a business that’s as tech-savvy as they are and in line with the latest digital advancements they find in other industries. Here are a couple of ways to incorporate technology into the day-to-day experience of your dealership:
- Incorporate texting: Texting is one of the most popular forms of communication these days, across all generations from Millennials to Boomers.
- Integrate tablets: Arm your sales staff with this tool that allows them to look up information and answer customers’ questions as quickly as possible, and have your customers apply for financing and complete vital paperwork on these handy devices.
Not only that, shoppers expect tech-savvy sales staff, so be sure to build up your Internet sales team: Sales associates should be available by email to promptly answer questions, send detailed monthly payment quotes, and arrange at-home test drives.
Make your website mobile-friendly
Marketing experts have emphasized the importance of a mobile-friendly design for more than a decade across the retail industry — and according to our own recent data, which shows the majority of online car shoppers use mobile phones, it’s no longer a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have” for automotive dealers.
In addition to enhancing the user’s web experience and increasing conversion, an optimized mobile design results in lower bounce rates and more time on site. This means higher search engine rankings and more traffic to your site.
More content — especially video
As consumers shift to car shopping online, they’re doing a lot more homework online as well. This makes dealer websites and internet sales departments more vital than ever — because if you’re not providing the information your customers need, shoppers are going to go somewhere else for their research, which might just lead to a lost sale.
According to Google, “92% of car buyers research online before they buy.” They also report that creator-produced videos, as opposed to paid media spots, received 93% of monthly views for all U.S. auto content on YouTube. This means producing educational organic video content is a vital way for dealerships to increase site traffic and build a connection with leads. Consider adding DIY video tutorials and video tours of new merchandise to your website or YouTube channel to capitalize on these growing trends and to improve your SEO.
While it may require a lot of effort and budget to invest in these customer-centric enhancements, dealers no longer have an option if they want to remain competitive. On the bright side, in an industry where everyone seems to be accelerating their ecommerce and digital experience offerings, the time and money you invest today will pay off dividends by allowing you to grow your bottom line.