Dealership showrooms are still and always will be (as long as franchise laws exist) the focal point of our industry. Every year, millions of consumers come into showrooms looking to buy a vehicle, assisted by knowledgeable experts who can point out the special features of cars and trucks, explain rebate offers and financial packages, negotiate fair trade-in values and complete the sale in a historically tenured process.
It’s a familiar business model. It’s proven. It’s what dealers do. But the nation’s retailing industry is changing dramatically, before our very eyes, as the digital revolution has swept over us. Many consumers now want the same digital shopping and buying experience they get with Amazon to be available when they buy a car.
That’s why today’s dealerships are adding digital retailing solutions and other strategies to their toolkit, to reach the demographic that wants a self-directed purchase experience and fulfill the sale online.
Here are three strategies worth considering when implementing digital retailing to expand your marketing channels:
You should always include digital sales as an option for consumers who connect with you in the dealership, via phone, email or web. Many retailers refer to this as a “bricks and clicks” strategy.
If the customer isn’t ready to buy after visiting your dealership, you should encourage them to go online to your website to learn more about the vehicles they are considering, and to find positive differentiation in your dealership.
Customers want an “Amazon-like” checkout experience from a dealer’s website, where they can get all their questions answered, and very possibly complete the purchase experience, all online. Dealers who ignore this rapidly exploding constituent group simply exclude their business from consideration of this demographic that is demanding a new path to engagement.
Dealers should recognize that their sales team might be reluctant to embrace the “buy online” trend that is taking hold in the U.S.
Sales team members should be trained to use the digital-retailing tools that are deployed in their showroom. They can walk consumers through the process, building trust along the way, and embrace the fact that they can now service three or four “ups” all at the same time, giving them greater income potential and higher dealership CSI scores.
Dealers should rethink compensation formulas to incentivize their sales team to integrate digital retailing options into their discussions with customers. They can drive demand and open relationships when talking to potential buyers about their needs and desires all while introducing another purchase experience that ensures your customers are buying from your inventory, whether online or on the lot.
Consider providing awards to your sales representatives and motivate them through contests, poker boards, gift cards, spiffs, etc. These incentives will pay for themselves through the higher gross profits digital consumer are willing to pay for the lack of a stressful process, convenience and time savings they enjoy.
Dealers should connect with consumers and maximize awareness across all marketing channels. The showroom is a wonderful channel, a place where consumers can see and touch the product and receive the human touch they appreciate. The dealership website is another powerful channel, one that provides great information in a very convenient, hassle-free way.
Shoppers can gather loads of information before visiting a showroom to “try on” a vehicle or they can complete the purchase completely online. An actively managed social media presence is essential in today’s world to connect with consumers and start a relationship that may lead them to your dealership. Create and adjust your digital marketing spend to capture early adopter status and use that to leverage your dealership into a destination of choice for the demographic of buyer who will only patronize dealerships that provide a digital retailing engagement option.
Employing these three strategies will go a long way to help dealers reap the full benefits of the unstoppable marriage of physical retailing in the showroom and the explosion of digital online retailing.