Identifying Gaps in Digital Retailing Solutions & 5 Easy Fixes

Identifying Gaps in Digital Retailing Solutions & 5 Easy Fixes

Inconsistencies slow the purchase process, erode consumer trust and eliminate the willingness to purchase.

I was recently talking with my friend and industry expert Brian Pasch about the automotive industry and its many growing pains. We discussed how the market continues to evolve and push further into a digital retailing-first approach, despite many dealerships simply not being ready for the change.

The adoption of digital tools has certainly brought about numerous benefits — including a more data-driven approach to turning leads into sales — but it has also exposed certain gaps that need to be addressed. Among the most glaring issues are the lack of personalization and consistency across digital retailing solutions. In this article, we’ll explore these gaps and discuss why they are crucial to the success of car dealerships in the digital age.

The Digital Transformation of Car Dealerships

The digital transformation of car dealerships has been nothing short of revolutionary. From online inventory management and appointment scheduling to virtual vehicle tours and online financing, digital retailing solutions have brought convenience and efficiency to both customers and dealerships. However, with great opportunities come great challenges. One of the most significant gaps in digital retailing solutions is the lack of personalization.

Many dealerships are still using one-size-fits-all approaches when engaging with customers online. This approach fails to recognize that each customer has unique preferences, needs and buying behaviors. Personalization is not merely addressing the customer by their first name in an email; it goes much deeper. Dealerships need to use data-driven insights to tailor their online interactions to each customer’s specific interests and history. For instance, a customer who has previously shown interest in SUVs should be presented with SUV options when they visit the dealership’s website, rather than a generic list of all available vehicles. Implementing personalization can significantly improve customer engagement and boost conversion rates.

Another prevalent issue plaguing dealerships nationwide is the inconsistent customer experience between the showroom and the website. Dealers often utilize multiple software platforms for different aspects of their digital retailing and showroom, such as lead management, inventory management and financing. These disconnected systems can lead to fragmented customer experiences, causing frustration and confusion. If the customer comes into the dealership and is presented with financing options completely different from the website’s offers, you’re going to have a frustrated customer walk out the door.

Customers expect a seamless and consistent experience when they interact with a dealership. Whether browsing inventory online, communicating with a sales representative in person or completing a finance application, the transition from one touchpoint to another should be smooth and cohesive. Inconsistencies, at the very least, slow the purchase process, which removes the efficiency gains expected from digital engagement; at worst, they erode consumer trust and eliminate the willingness to purchase.

Addressing the Gaps

The good news is that many dealers have already figured out how to solve these issues. To address the gaps in digital retailing solutions, dealers should consider the following strategies:

Invest in Unified Solutions: Look for digital retailing platforms that offer a comprehensive suite of tools, allowing dealerships to manage all aspects of their operations within a single ecosystem. These unified tools will allow for a consistent consumer journey and streamlined process; the elimination of duplicative data entry can significantly reduce the amount of time required to complete the deal in the showroom, driving customer satisfaction and efficiency in the front-end operation.

Embrace Data-Driven Personalization: Implement advanced data analytics and a dynamic website platform to gather insights about customer behavior and preferences. Use this information to personalize the customer’s online experience, from product recommendations to targeted marketing campaigns.

Train Your Staff: Train dealership staff to ensure they are proficient in using digital tools effectively. Encourage ongoing education to keep up with the latest trends and technologies in the automotive industry.

Create a “Digital Retail Culture”: Create a culture within the dealership sales organization that embraces digital retailing technology. This means educating shoppers on the ability to complete all or a portion of their transactions online and making it easy to transition into the showroom or finance office to complete the sale. Making a transparent and easy-to-navigate purchase process part of your brand promise will positively impact CSI, customer referrals and efficiency across the dealership’s front-end operation.

Establish a Feedback Loop: When successfully implemented, a feedback loop can gather insights about your customers and their digital retailing experiences. Use this feedback to make continuous improvements to the dealership’s online processes.

By investing in unified solutions, leveraging data-driven personalization, providing adequate training and maintaining a feedback loop with customers, car dealerships can bridge these gaps and thrive in the digital age. A commitment to delivering personalized and consistent experiences will not only boost customer satisfaction but also drive sales and long-term success. 

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