The Modern Dealership and the Blended Buyer

The Modern Dealership & the Blended Buyer

It is essential to reflect on the connection between your online and in-store sales processes.

If you asked your parents, or even your grandparents, about what they thought life would be like in 2023, what would they say? Could they have predicted the rise of the internet, the invention of smart lights or the widespread obsession with cat videos?

In a world filled with uber-fast wifi, same-day delivery, smart assistants and electric vehicles, it’s hard to imagine what could come next. The past few decades have birthed technological advancements that have impacted every aspect of our lives, from ordering groceries to buying a car.

The Modern Dealership

Buying a car has completely changed with the introduction of technology — today’s reporting says that 95% of car buyers will begin their car-buying journey online. And yet, the same reporting also finds that less than 5% of customers will complete their transaction entirely online without stepping foot into the dealership.

In today’s climate, it is essential to cater to what we refer to as the blended buyer — someone who starts their deal online and finishes it in person at the dealership.

The Blended Consumer Experience

Today’s customers have high expectations for buying anything online. They expect their experience to be seamless, intuitive and transparent. These expectations are the norm in most industries, especially when purchasing something online.

A transaction as important as this should have a refined and frictionless process. However, this can be challenging if your online and in-store tools are not connected.

Understanding the Problems with Technology

There are hundreds of available tools, many of which could work well for customers who are either entirely online or in-store. However, that does not meet the needs of 95% of your customers who want a blended experience. To do that, you will need to use tools that work together.

As a dealership, you are responsible for making the process seamless and enjoyable for the consumer. When selecting a tool, your primary goal should be to offer the same buying experience online and in-store, regardless of where the customer begins their journey.

The Curse of Disconnected Tools & How to Diagnose it

Don’t let your dealership fall prey to the curse of disconnected tools! It is essential to reflect on the connection between your online and in-store sales processes.

Ask yourself:
Are the two processes connected? 
Do any steps taken online repeat in-store? 
What does this process feel like to a customer?

The top three things a customer wants are convenience, speed and ease of use. Suppose a customer starts their buying process online and has to repeat the same steps when they get to the dealership (trade valuation, credit app, selecting payments). In that case, they are not getting what they want, and your sales team wastes valuable time.

Disconnected tools will cost you money, too — someone is paying the difference if your online payments are inaccurate and don’t match in-store. When more than half of car shoppers want to know their payment before even agreeing to a test drive, these numbers must match.

Customers expect a transparent and seamless car-buying experience, and dealers using disconnected tools cannot deliver that. This causes frustration on both sides and leaves the car-buying process feeling disjointed, complicated and untrustworthy.

The Cure!

The solution to these problems is simple: give your customers what they want. Find tools that work both in-store and online, and get rid of anything that is disconnected.

Imagine a smooth and efficient process for your sales team, where every customer interaction is easily tracked and updated in a single, fully integrated system. Your team can easily follow the customer’s progress on your site and even jump into a live chat with them. Any customer who comes to your store can pick up right where they left off online, with no duplicated steps. The best part? The payment estimates they received online are the same as what you show them in-store, down to the penny.

If you think that sounds far-fetched, think again! All of that and more is possible and, dare we say, easily attainable — if you have the right tools.

Future-Proofing Your Dealership

In brief, the shift toward online shopping has dramatically impacted the automotive industry, and dealerships must adapt to stay relevant.

It’s crucial to dedicate time and resources to finding tools that work together and fit the needs of your dealership. 

Doing so will earn the trust and respect of your customers, resulting in higher satisfaction, repeat business and continued success for your dealership in an ever-changing marketplace.

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