In the present market, there is an ongoing shift from a product-driven approach to a customer-centric approach.
And as customer expectations evolve, technology must adapt and grow to keep up.
So it goes for online retailing.
If we want to stay ahead of the curve, the process must be converted into a single online experience: an integrated, accurate, and cohesive process that simultaneously builds trust and a relationship with the customer.
Here are four ways dealerships can evaluate potential online retailing opportunities and assess their viability.
With the internet and other technology, consumers now have access to information about vehicle performance, cost of ownership and financing, ownership itself, and more at their fingertips.
With the onslaught of information comes a need for a personalized and relevant customer experience from the vehicle research to the test drive to the replacement stage.
Customers may truly want to come into the dealership for the full experience, but they may feel deterred by various factors, like the “used car salesman” stereotype.
Customers want to trust your business, but first you have to prove that their trust is not misplaced.
Design your customer experiences.
Make them consistent with the brand identity and ensure that they foster trust; build authenticity, transparency, and consistency.
Integrate the ease and convenience of online shopping with a good, helpful in-store experience.
You can’t buy a car online, but a large part of the process is already on the internet.
To make the most of it, you need to make sure you provide an enhanced customer experience using digital and social media to increase customer satisfaction.
Your dealership website could be the first thing a customer ever sees relating to your business, and you want it to make a good first impression.
Your site should be user-friendly and intuitive; if people click away from the page, your business is losing opportunities.
Ask yourself: does our site gain the consumer’s trust?
Does it simplify the process and make the consumer want to engage?
Don’t cut out the human element entirely, either; customer-dealership interaction is great for delivering information, answering specific questions, and guiding customers through the car buying process.
The online buying experience should seamlessly blend the advantages of new technology and human communication.
With new tech comes new approaches.
Make your retail networks more streamlined to maintain profitability.
You may need to trim some traditional retail networks or reorganize floorspace to complement the digital experience.
Don’t shy away from new distribution strategies (e.g. direct selling, mobile stores, test drive centers, boutique stores, online platforms).
Dealers and automakers interact with their customers via a multi-channel approach, which can be useful as it enables different sources and ways to collect information.
The problem is that the different channels don’t always work well together, creating an incoherent customer experience.
Customers want a seamless experience where they have the freedom and flexibility to move between a variety of information sources and receive a similar experiences across the channels.
Your dealership can - and should - take advantage of new available technology, but there’s one important detail to keep in mind: the automotive sales business is still a “people business.”
You cannot completely replace personal touches with impersonal widgets and other new additions to your websites.