People are predictable, but new technologies change their buying habits. Do you remember party lines, phone books or dial-up internet? Today, we can’t imagine a dealership without a phone number or website, but this wasn’t always the case. What is the next revolution in car buying? Moreover, how can you make sure you’re not left behind holding the bag phone?
Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. and represent one-third of the U.S. population, according to a Council of Economic Advisers report. They are the most diverse and educated generation to date and are expected to shape our economy for decades to come, the 2014 report said. Imagine being one of the first dealers to figure out how to aggressively access this market. The other dealers would be images in your rearview mirror.
Surprisingly, 61% of millennials have attended college compared to 46% of baby boomers. As a consumer group, they are informed and value efficiency and transparency. They are a generation shaped by technology. They embrace new and innovative ideas and methods. They don’t want to spend hours in a dealership talking shop when they can go online and complete the entire transaction. They are focused on their lifestyle, and traditional car buying doesn’t fit the image.
Many retailers are already meeting their needs. Grocery stores have online buying, curbside pickup and home delivery. The restaurant industry has online ordering, rapid/mobile pickup and GrubHub partnerships. It is more efficient and accurate than traditional shopping, and it leaves them more time to do things they love.
The number of cars being sold may be the same, but the purchasing method is shifting. Dealers who do not embrace this new model will watch other dealers steal their market share. It is time to “adapt or die.”
As an example: At my university, a new building was constructed, but I was surprised to see there were no sidewalks. When asked, the designers said, “Let’s see where the people walk first. Then we’ll build the sidewalks where the people are.” Likewise, if you continue to force customers to buy how you want them to, they will “cut across your grass.” Digital retail companies observe the emerging market and build sidewalks to the dealership using the path dictated by the consumer. It meets the needs of a new generation of tech-savvy buyers.
Yes, there is still a need for showrooms, where sales representatives can serve customers from all generations who want the personal touch and have time for the in-store experience. Of course, nothing replaces a test drive. Remember a robust digital-retailing tool can be deployed on the showroom to manage the busy Saturday traffic. This empowers the customer to expedite his/her purchase and get back to living. These models aren’t at odds with each other, and you don’t have to choose one over the other. With the right application of process, these sales models complement each other and reach all available markets.
Whether they are browsing from their home, office or kid’s ballgame, tech-savvy customers positively respond to efficacy, transparency and personal control. Don’t lose your digital market share, for it’s the fastest growing market in retail.
Scarlet Fox – WebBuy