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Transparent Digital Retail is a Win for Dealerships and Customers

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Aaron Schinke is the director of product management for DealerSocket.

Consumer apprehension toward car dealerships likely goes back to the first sale from a dealer. It’s no surprise that people joke that they would rather go to the dentist than the dealership.

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Salespeople in any industry are met with a touch of skepticism by consumers. For auto salespeople, however, this skepticism has evolved into an unproductive lack of trust. Salespeople carry this negative connotation as pushy, duplicitous and selfish because, unfortunately, consumers interact with them while trying to make the most favorable purchase possible. Movies and television reinforce the pushy auto salesperson stereotype as well.

Recent studies have shown that distrust toward salespeople is the No. 1 reason why customers dislike the sales process. Additionally, a study by Fair.com (formerly Beepi) states that 61 percent of customers surveyed felt like they were taken advantage of at some point at the dealership.

Dealers can influence and eradicate the negative perception of salespeople and dealerships. They must make a concentrated effort toward being transparent by putting confidence — the decision— back in the customer’s hands.

Dealerships are no different from any other sales-oriented business. The fundamentals of customer service apply. Fortunately, technology can make it easier. The right digital retail tools improve cost transparency and are key to improving the dealership experience and regaining customer trust.

Transparent Digital Retail Puts Trust Back in the Sale

Digital retail tools have been around for years. Unfortunately, many have unintentionally worsened transparency at the dealership, eroding trust — cost inaccuracies and pooled, generalized data being the biggest culprits. As digital retail stands, customers can receive a rough estimate of costs, but they often are surprised by the actual cost after the taxes, fees and service agreements are tacked on in the store.

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Advanced digital retail tools now exist that feature greater accuracy and transparency, allowing customers to see the exact cost of a vehicle — without surprises — during a simple visit to the dealership Website. These tools can present a seamless, transparent cost calculation that benefits both customer and dealer.

Transparent digital retailing tools allow the customer to:

  • Structure an accurate deal online, including the dealership’s exact taxes, fees, add-ons, and incentives
  • Easily understand “added” or “hidden” costs, eliminating surprises
  • Take advantage of quicker negotiation times at the store by automatically teeing up deal structures at the dealership via CRM integration
  • Navigate a unique Web experience that conforms to the layout and branding of the dealership Website
  • Enjoy a seamless and simple online-to-store experience


Digital retail tools also benefit the dealership, allowing it to:

  • Set the value of trade-ins and accurately price inventory
  • Automatically receive customer information, preferences and cost structure (not just glorified leads) via CRM integration
  • Improve the desking process by aligning customer and dealer expectations
  • Deter customers from shopping around a pool of competitive data and pricing, like some third-party apps
  • Help win the sale by providing current incentive offers online during price structuring


Do your research before selecting a third-party digital retail tool, as many do not offer branded, accurate data and/or seamless CRM integration along with the other benefits mentioned here. Be sure to select one that offers a truly integrated, mutually beneficial digital retail experience.

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The advantages of a digital retail tool is a win-win for dealers and customers alike, opening the door of trust with cost transparency and improving the digital-to-store experience. It’s not just a stepping-stone toward full online vehicle purchasing; digital retail is the right choice to begin improving transparency and cultivating trust.

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