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Digital Retailing — the Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing Mix

Digital retailing provides a “self-service” experience option for the customer who wants to start the buying journey online. If they graduate to a “full-service” customer at the dealership, the hand off is seamless with the right DR platform.

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This article is a follow up to my previous article on digital retailing, which can be found here. (link this to the word “here”: https://www.autosuccessonline.com/refocus-your-dealership-marketing-with-digital-retailing/)

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There is some debate in the industry whether digital retailing is a marketing expense or not. As part of explaining the rationale behind our positioning, let’s do a bit of Marketing 101 and see how digital retailing contributes to the marketing mix at your dealership.

4 P’s of marketing in simple and familiar terms:

Product

A product is a service or good offered to meet and generate consumer interest or demand. Car dealerships provide their customers with both tangible and intangible products, ranging from new/used vehicles to warranties to vehicle service. A service of high quality is usually self-marketed, and this is what makes “customer experience” desirable in the marketing mix.

Digital retailing provides a “self-service” experience option for the customer who wants to start the buying journey online. If the “self-service” customer needs to graduate to a “full-service” customer at the dealership, the hand off is pretty seamless with the right DR platform.

Price

Price is the cost people pay for a product. Customers are smart and majority of them do a price investigation before making a high-ticket purchase. The goal of a business is to match the product or service to a customer who is willing to pay for it. A smart business operator will always allow a customer to take a peek into his/her best offer on the product as long as it is not a losing proposition.

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Digital retailing moves the needle from MSRP advertising to MAP advertising through a verifiable PII process. Here is a quick reference to the do’s and don’ts of dealership advertising. https://www.paa.org/Files/NADAAdGuide.pdf

When creating a typical marketing campaign or advertisement, the onus is on the dealership and the marketing staff/agency to make sure all the legal guidelines are met. As a dealer, you don’t have to look too much beyond the 20 groups to find instances of fines levied due to incorrect advertising.

Digital retailing works in real time with the accurate incentives, rates, monthly payment, warranty payments, that are retrieved at a VIN level and the chances of manual errors are pretty low.

Place

Place refers to distribution or the methods and location that is used for delivering products or services to the target customers. Traditionally, the dealership show room is where the distribution or delivery happened. With a state-of-the-art digital retailing tool, the customers have an option to specify a delivery address (which could be out of state) and this makes remote delivery possible. All the taxes are calculated on the garaged location and the delivery charges are shown to the customer upfront.

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Digital retailing changes the dynamics of distribution in the marketing mix. The dealership can meet the customer at their desired location to do the business. With e-contracting, the entire deal can be easily created and finalized on a tablet with e-signatures.

Promotion

Promotion is all about exposing the product/inventory through public relations efforts via advertising as well as word of mouth, direct mail, email marketing and social media.

Promotion is a communication tool that encapsulates the first three P’s by putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time, with the goal of it being irresistible to customers.

For example, in the digital age, the “place” and “promotion” factors are as much online as offline — specifically, where a vehicle promotion appears on a dealership web page or Facebook/Instagram feed as well as which types of search functions trigger corresponding, re-targeted ads for the vehicle.

Digital retailing helps the dealership to capture the customer journey on their website and then create targeted and personalized outreach/promotions.

As dealers, when you venture into the land of digital retailing, we urge you to consider the lay of the land on:

  • How much disruption it will cause to your existing sales process?
  • How do you measure the ROI; should it be based on leads or conversion?

and more importantly

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  • How well does it fit into your marketing mix? Can your marketing team use this as well as your sales team?”

We need to consider the fact that digital retailing should not be disruptive for the dealership, it just needs to be an incremental change in how sales opportunities are created, engaged and finally closed. On our part, we are looking toward a generalized digital retailing playbook that can cover a wider spectrum of the dealer community.

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