Predictive personalization key to matching precedent set by non-auto retailers.
The online shopping experience offered by the majority of dealerships fails to meet customer expectations, according to a new Affinitiv survey of 1,000 automotive consumers. While 76% of recent car buyers said it was important for the dealer website to be personalized, only 26% of respondents agreed that dealers provide a highly personalized experience on their website. The data is highlighted in the Affinitiv whitepaper Predictive Personalization: The Evolution of the Customer Experience.
“The website is often the first point of contact with a dealership, but most dealer websites were built using unsophisticated technologies that reflect an antiquated notion of how consumers buy cars,” said Doug Van Sach, Affinitiv’s vice president, strategy & analytics. “To meet customer expectations, auto retailers must evolve their shopping experience to match the precedent set by retailers in other industries.”
Predictive personalization is the key to making this happen, according to the survey. Every day, consumers interact with non-auto retailers who provide a highly personalized online shopping experience. Amazon, Nordstrom and Apple are role models that consumers expect dealers to follow.
Affinitiv’s survey found that the online shopping experience offered by dealers falls short in three key areas. When customers were asked what part of the website experience they wanted dealers to personalize, the top items were vehicles of interest, vehicle features and vehicles within my budget.
While 65% of consumers want websites to personalize vehicles of interest, only 47% of dealer websites proactively recommend vehicles of interest based on the customer’s browsing behavior.
Fifty-eight percent of consumers want vehicle recommendations based on specific features of interest, but in the study sample of websites, not a single dealer website recommended vehicles based on features of interest.
“Considering its high importance, recommending vehicles with relevant features is one of the single greatest opportunities for dealer websites to increase conversion rates and better meet the expectations of online shoppers,” said Van Sach.
Additionally, 52% of consumers expect a dealer’s website to help them find affordable vehicles and 62% said that finding a vehicle with a specific monthly payment was as important, or even more important than finding a vehicle within a specific price range. However, only 9% of dealer websites allow customers to search by payment range and 11% of websites incorporated the customer’s credit score into the payment estimate.
“If websites aren’t dramatically improved to elevate the shopping experience and make personalized recommendations based on browsing behavior, dealers risk alienating potential buyers before they ever visit a showroom,” said Van Sach. “It’s up to dealers to challenge their vendors to demonstrate how their websites react to browsing behavior and deliver relevant vehicles with the right mix of features within a customer’s budget.”
Affinitiv’s Predictive Personalization study surveyed 1,000 auto consumers and analyzed a sample of 100 dealership websites to better understand the level of personalization that dealers are offering.