It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In the early stages when there was a national shutdown, dealers scrambled to figure out how to sell cars in this new environment. They successfully turned to technology, such as digital retailing tools and live video walk-arounds, to connect with consumers and provide them with a touchless shopping experience.
I give kudos to all the managers and salespeople who quickly adapted their sales processes to provide consumers with a virtual shopping experience. But it’s not all about process. When most of the sales process is conducted remotely, dealers who learn how to merchandise their inventory online have an instant competitive advantage.
In particular, the past year has shined a light on the powerful impact that videos — and especially live video communication — can have on consumers’ decision-making process. Which would you rather look at: static photos of a vehicle, along with written specs, or a live action video that shows and tells everything you need to know?
When a car shopper contacts a salesperson, would that customer rather communicate via phone and email exchanges or via a live video call? With live video communication, an instant and personal connection is established.
With live video walk-arounds, a salesperson can give a dynamic sales presentation of a vehicle, focus on the car shopper’s areas of interest and answer all questions as they arise. Live video calls are also a great tool for customers to show the salesperson their trade-in vehicles, if they have them. These calls can be recorded so the used car manager can review the video later to help determine a trade-in price.
It used to be that the goal of every salesperson was to “just get them in.” But many customers don’t want to feel pressured or visit the showroom until they are 100% sure they want that vehicle. Encouraging the consumer to make an appointment for a live video walk-around is a great compromise, because it takes the pressure off the customer while giving the salesperson an opportunity to bring that person further down funnel. And don’t forget: According to Think with Google, video walk-throughs are one of the top three types of video content that consumers look for when shopping for vehicles.
Best of all, live video walk-arounds are simple. To perform a live walk-through, all you need is a video calling app on a smartphone. However, the problem with most apps is that the app on your salesperson’s smartphone may not be compatible with the app a consumer’s phone has. Fortunately, there are special apps designed for dealerships that work cross-platform and don’t require the consumer to download the same app or sign up for a service. Making it easy for the consumer is key.
The events of the last year have permanently changed consumer expectations and the way they want to shop for cars. The auto industry has been talking about online retailing for years, but until the pandemic, many dealers resisted the idea. Now I think they realize that the digital retailing process isn’t the radical change they feared. It’s simply a way to provide consumers with a choice on how much of the purchase process they want to do remotely versus in the showroom.
At the heart of every successful digital retailing strategy is a successful video marketing strategy. Live video walk-arounds are an easy and fast way to get consumers emotionally attached to a vehicle. Now that dealerships’ sales teams have figured out how to successfully use live video walk-arounds, they plan to make it a part of their long-term sales and digital retailing strategies.