Adapt or Risk Being Left Behind
Constant change is something those involved in the auto industry are used to — auto dealerships understand this more than most. Dealerships are asked to bear the brunt of these changes, as they constantly adapt to stay relevant in the market place. OEM incentives, government regulations, changing consumer expectations, advancing technologies, and consolidations – are some of the main change agents involved.
When it comes down to it, shaping the buying experience is the auto dealership’s main advantage. Marketing and converting sales is something dealerships have always been good at, otherwise they’ll find themselves eaten up and absorbed by those that are. What this means for dealerships in today’s modern technologically advanced world is, once again, adapting to survive.
Future Trends in the Auto Industry
Autos are starting to reflect the IoT transformation, as driverless cars, 3D laminated glass, advanced safety aids, entertainment display screens, and integrated web-based smart cars, begin to more prominently emerge on the scene. Ultimately, technologically advanced autos are driving up the cost for OEMs and reducing profit margins for everyone down the line.
Environmental regulations and green expectations from consumers are also changing how autos are designed and manufactured. While autos continue to become more expensive to manufacture and relationships between OEMs, suppliers, and dealership networks constantly shift, auto dealership owners are hoping profitable margins and consumer demand will remain constant in the future.
Focusing on the Main Advantage
At the end of the day, the dealership is responsible for selling the car. How they accomplish this, largely, has to do with how they shape the buying experience, which encompasses their marketing and sales efforts.
Effective marketing has always involved reaching a target audience where they’re at, which in today’s digital culture means thinking of your website as your virtual showroom. With today’s car shopper spending more and more time shopping away from the dealership, and visiting fewer dealerships after that. Your website is your chance to make a good first impression, build credibility, and become a resource for all shoppers. You should want an easy, seamless experience for your customers that starts online because that’s where consumers are making their vehicle purchase decisions.
According to a recent Cox Automotive Study, 90% of US buyers are payment buyers. They are making buying decisions based on payment. If most shoppers want to know what their monthly payments are, how much they can get on a trade and what financing terms will be before they decide on a specific vehicle, make it easy and convenient for shoppers to find the information they are looking for.
As a dealer in 2017, think about making your website more transactional. User experience optimized for any screen size, easy to navigate and use design, well merchandised real-time inventory, available incentives and rebates, instant credit decisions, trade-in tools, ‘penny perfect’ finance terms, and chat/text tools are just some of the best practices and tools many car dealers are using to more efficiently convert more online shoppers into showroom buyers.
Why? Its common sense. The more customers know, the more comfortable they are. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they are to buy. More information and two way engagement is the fastest way to increase visitor to sales ratios. And todays customer expects if more of the transaction can be completed online, the time spent at the dealership will be reduced.
With online retail tools, the consumer is giving a little to get a lot. For the dealer, that customer becomes so much more valuable. By changing when and how the shopper is introduced to finance and ‘deal’ information, the combination of technology and data are enabling the dealer and the consumer to come together much faster. The two-way transparency is a trust multiplier. The sooner finance managers can get involved in the deal, the better they can be structured. Deal transparency increases finance penetration and customer satisfaction levels.
Streamlining On-Site Sales and F&I Processes
Shaping the buying experience ends with streamlined on-site sales and F&I processes. An article on Forbes called: “Do We Need Car Dealers And Used Car Salesman In The Future?”, written on May 9th, 2016 by Sarwant Singh, explains what this may mean in the future:
“The brick and click dealership store itself needs to at least meet, if not exceed, the best high-street experience. The physical store portfolio needs to tick a few 21st-century boxes, like using digital technology (screens, tablets, holography, simulators and power walls instead of cars on display) and using augmented or virtual reality experiences.”
Leveraging digital platforms, mobile devices and innovative technologies that allow your customers to start and stop when and where they want – online or in store – you will sell more cars, increase profits and improve your customers buying experience and give your dealership the advantage it needs to grow today and well into the future. If interested in learning more, please contact us today.
Author: Pete Maclnnis
Author Bio: Pete brings over 37 years of experience in automotive finance and technology as Founder and CEO of eLEND Solutions™. Founded in 2003 as DealerCentric, eLEND Solutions™ is an automotive FinTech company specializing in online and in-store digital credit, identity and finance solutions designed to create a more efficient and profitable vehicle purchase process for the retail automotive industry.