For decades, automotive digital retailing and the concept of “buying online” was the future, deemed cutting-edge…and for some, a passing fad.
By now, many dealers have at least accepted digital retailing isn’t going anywhere, with a recent survey from Automotive News finding 88% of dealers are likely to increase their use of digital tools to increase customers as a result of COVID-19. However, simply having a dealership digital retailing option isn’t enough – especially if that option isn’t turnkey or is inefficient.
In the current competitive landscape, if your dealership is ill-prepared to deliver an efficient, user-friendly digital retail experience, you risk watching from the sidelines soon.
In this blog post, we outline three ways dealerships can improve the efficiency of their digital retailing processes by:
- Investing in digitally-savvy personnel and continued learning
- Using high-quality data to fuel dealership operations
- Embracing omnichannel marketing solutions
Invest in Tech-Savvy Personnel and Continued Learning
Chances are that your dealership is staffed by all sorts of interesting people. From long-time industry vets to up-and-coming Gen Z leaders, oftentimes a dealership’s greatest strength is its team’s collective and diverse skill set. But in a quickly evolving, digital-first market, it’s critical your team shares one common trait: tech savviness.
Whether it’s video production, social selling or confidently using customer-facing technology, every member of your sales team, from top to bottom, should be capable of and actively engaged in contributing to your dealership’s digital retailing process.
That doesn’t mean you should clean house and start from scratch. Just as elements of your dealership’s traditional sales strategy translate to your digital retailing strategy, focus on transitioning and readapting your team’s existing skill sets first. Inspire your team to continue growing by participating in ongoing training and education opportunities, such as virtual events that circumvent the formerly prohibitive costs and time lost associated with in-person training events.
Use Data to Fuel Dealership Operations
With so many variables out of a dealer’s control, digital retailing success hinges on how well you adapt and focus on the elements you can control. The more information you have about what is going on around you, the easier optimizing your digital retailing process will be.
Start by ensuring the data locked deep in your CRM and DMS can be used to fuel processes like your dealership’s acquisition and inventory strategies. For example, dealers can reduce their dependence on third party lead providers by utilizing advanced behavior prediction technology like Market EyeQ.
When integrated with data from your CRM and DMS, these tools incorporate intelligence from top-tier sources to predict which of your customers are reaching a point in their lives where they will likely be shopping for a new vehicle soon. By focusing on only the best leads and opportunities, dealers can both reduce time wasted on nurturing unqualified leads and resources lost to spray-and-pray marketing.
These same advanced tools can also be used to fuel a data-driven inventory strategy. When deciding which vehicles to retail and which to send to auction, dealers using these tools can analyze factors like a vehicle’s maintenance history, current auction prices and local sales popularity to determine which models are most likely to turn a profit – and won’t spend too much time sitting on the lot.
Embrace Omnichannel Marketing
While automotive digital retailing is quickly evolving, brick-and-mortar sales aren’t necessarily defunct – far from it. With the pandemic accelerating the use of digital retailing, many dealerships have started seeing success adopting an omnichannel sales strategy and solutions to quickly and easily meet customers where they are – whether that’s online or in-person.
Not only does this approach empower dealers to appeal to new consumer buying behaviors, it also ultimately enables dealerships to operate more efficiently. In a recent industry survey, 70% of dealers using omnichannel retailing solutions say their sales process is more efficient as a result.
There’s no singular path every customer takes from their first inkling of wanting or needing a new vehicle to signing on the dotted line. Whether they’re researching, visiting the dealership for the third time with their third salesperson or walking into the dealership ready to submit their credit application, every interaction with your dealership should be connected – and, above all else, represent your dealership’s core values.
To customers, there is no difference between their interactions in person or online. Ensure your team can follow customers across platforms and seamlessly transition from each touchpoint. It’s critical your dealership’s website and other digital retailing platforms are connected and reflective of your in-person dealership experience and able to support your customers throughout their entire buying journey – and beyond. This means connecting your dealership’s inventory, CRM, DMS, digital retailing platforms and more to provide a simple and straightforward customer experience.
A sustainable plan for improving your dealership’s digital retailing strategy means taking a deep-dive into critical processes and people supporting your dealership – and may require dealers to reassess the way you are currently doing business. While this might seem like a massive undertaking, in the end, improving the efficiency and efficacy of your dealership's digital processes empowers dealers to continue doing what they do best long into the future – serving their customers.