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In the past, car shoppers understood that they would have to trade their personal information in order to get specific information on vehicle pricing online. Today, they realize this is no longer necessary. As information has become more widely available and transparent, the consumer’s need to fill out a “Request A Quote” or “Contact Us” form on a website to obtain that information has disappeared. Those conversion forms may work some of the time but for every one a consumer submits, I guarantee that there were 95 who chose not to do so.
It’s simple, really. In the age of e-commerce, consumers have been conditioned by dominant online retailers such as Amazon that they’ll have all of the information on a book or item centralized in one place. A consumer can check pricing, read reviews for both the product and the seller, and get all of the information they need to make a buying decision. And it works; E-Commerce surpassed the $231 billion mark in 2012, according to USA Today and its only growing.
Today, most customers start their car research and shopping online before ever physically going to a dealership. The majority of today’s car buyers never fill out a lead form -- but they did all of their shopping and research online. They arrive at your store fully armed and ready to do battle. Many times, they have more information on hand upon arriving than the salesperson does. This shows that the information is available to them and they never had to give up any personal information to get it.
Unfortunately, you never had the opportunity to engage with them during their research phase. What happened? E-commerce happened. Gen Y happened. Consumers’ expectations have changed. Today it is no longer necessary for online shoppers to pay for product information with their name, email and phone number. The e-commerce mentality is now deeply engrained among consumers and practiced across all retail lines – except automotive.
Simply put, in the beginning, the customer wants information but at that point the dealer has not yet earned his or her trust or confidence. By being able to go to a central location such as CarWoo! and submit their information anonymously to dealers who will then provide the information they want, the consumer gets the information and both the dealer and consumer have the opportunity to interact. Dealers who are helpful and forthcoming with information; that are responsive and communicate quickly and efficiently with consumers – even anonymously – earn the consumer’s trust.
In today’s busy world, people expect instant information. They want to be able to shop online, gain information and make buying decisions without worrying that their e-mail in-box and cell phones are going to be continuously bombarded by salespeople. While the car shopper may understand that a dealer following up aggressively only wants to sell them a car, they’re not necessarily ready to engage with them yet. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to buy a car, however.
Consumers are shopping for cars on websites all day – whether it’s dealerships or third parties. Statistically, there are more customers shopping for vehicles at any given time than leads being submitted. Knowing this, ask yourself, would you rather have a customer or a lead?
I’m privileged to be sharing insights and practices on exactly this topic at the upcoming Internet Battle Plan on August 13-15 in Las Vegas, Nevada where CarWoo is also a proud sponsor. My presentation will explore how, by shifting the focus of the BDC and the Internet Department to an e-commerce mentality, dealers can begin to recapture direct and personal engagement with today’s seemingly stealth shoppers.
If you are planning on attending, I’d love to meet you!