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As our industry looks to the future, many experts claim the next logical step from online marketing is online sales: that is, completing the car sales process, or as much of it as possible, online. According to an IBM study last year, 21% of new car buyers never test drove a car before purchasing it, that percentage is likely to grow. In 2012, CNW Research stated that only 13% of millennials say a new vehicle ranks as the number one product projecting enviable status. This utilitarian viewpoint of cars, combined with the millennials’ increased usage of mobile devices to conduct research, compare prices and shop online, indicates that future consumers will want more—if not all—of the car buying process to be completed online, and in as little time as possible.
Successfully serving this growing segment of consumers will require dealerships to shift from websites that are essentially online display showrooms to websites that help the customer accomplish as much of the deal online as possible. Currently, one of the major hurdles between engaging an online customer and closing an online sale is financing. Like other aspects of the car buying process, customers want to research financing on their own to ensure they are getting a vehicle that fits in their monthly budget. One way dealers can help them do this is to offer a shop-by-payment marketing tool on their website.
Traditional payment tools such as calculators, estimators and online credit applications fall short when it comes to giving customers what they want. Payment calculators and estimators are inaccurate because they depend on the customer providing their desired interest rate, which may not be realistic, as well as the purchase price of “a vehicle,” not a specific, in-stock unit that you’ve priced. Online credit applications require the customer to enter personal information and can have a negative impact on credit scores, so many prospective car buyers are hesitant to use them—especially customers with good credit.
A shop-by-payment tool allows customers on a dealer’s website to view the dealer’s entire inventory that matches their payment criteria. More importantly, the customers are pre-qualified for a real payment in the process, providing the dealer with high-quality, credit-analyzed leads. The shop-by-payment tool brings the customer further down funnel, closer to the purchase of a specific vehicle—bridging the gap between online marketing and online sales.
If you’re considering a shop-by-payment tool, ensure that it analyzes consumer credit using the “Three C’s” of successful payment marketing:
1) Credit: To provide an accurate payment quote, you must know the customer’s credit. Today’s technology can provide your dealership with an accurate score while maintaining the customer’s privacy and without negatively impacting their credit.
2) Criteria: A payment tool should be able to pre-qualify a customer based on a dealer’s specific financial criteria—that is, their current, real finance programs.
3) Collateral: Monthly payment quotes can vary based on what vehicle a customer wants to buy. Payment tools that can provide quotes for VIN-specific inventory help to set realistic expectations of what that customer will be able to afford.
If your dealership is considering taking the next steps towards closing more sales online, a shop-by-payment tool is the key to bridging the payments gap. To see a demo of this new technology, follow this link and click on the tab, “demo.” Let us know what you think!