The Many Shades and Flavors of Online Sales for Your Dealership

September 29, 2020

In today’s digital world, the lines between online and traditional sales are continually blurred. After all, what do you even classify as an online sale for your dealership? Take a moment to consider how you categorize that answer and what it means for you personally. For some dealers, a sale is considered coming from an online source if the lead arrived through their website. For others, it is if the car is delivered offsite. There is no clear or universal definition for what constitutes an online sale. There are simply many differing and varying factors that go into it. Regardless, you need to be privy to what your customers want and what the new car buying journey looks like for today and the future.

Definitions are pretty broad as dealerships scramble to meet the demands of customers who are looking to do more of the process from home. And this isn’t completely related to COVID-19. Truth be told, the process of shopping for cars has drastically changed over the last 20 years. Digital retailing has disrupted a number of industries and the automotive industry is not immune. As a result, dealerships need to be staunch in their approach to offering various and differing touchpoints to the modern consumer. Online sales will continue to grow and evolve, but for now, being successful means addressing the concerns of your customers directly today.

Despite the growing success of online sales for selling cars, many dealerships still believe that car buying is solely an in-person people business. While this sentiment might ring true for a select few, it does little to discredit the power of digital retailing and the possibility of purchasing a vehicle online. As buying moves more digital, it means that the consumer will have more exposure to information and data applicable to the car buying process. They become empowered with knowledge that helps them make smarter, quicker decisions.

By the same token, your sales staff needs a fount of knowledge for both the vehicles on your lot and the products merchandised on your website. They should be able to answer any questions the customer may have, as well as be knowledgeable about where the customer is in their buying journey. As purchasing becomes a truly omnichannel endeavor, it is paramount that your sales staff is capable of providing a frictionless experience. Deploying a BDC is one way to ensure your staff is prepared to meet customer needs as they transition from traditional buying to online and digital retail methods.

On top of that, your digital showroom has to be comprised of the necessary components of your customer’s search process. Consider the following: 92% of car buyers research online before they buy. And do you know what they are often researching? Videos. What this means for you is that you need to maintain a proper brand consistency through all of your digital assets to ensure your customer gets the information they need, when they need it. Marketing vehicles has become an integral part of a dealership’s success.

Engage with your customers via social media in conjunction with OEM’s efforts to provide interactive content that gives an inside-out, 360° view of your inventory. This bridges the gap between your digital properties and your physical lot. You want your customer to be comfortable and confident. This flavor of online selling makes it simpler for consumers to mesh their wants and needs while allowing them to envision their next vehicle from the comfort of their own home (or phone, for that matter).

The future of car shopping will further progress toward online purchasing. COVID-19 proved that dealerships have the ability and the initiative to be successful through digital engagements. The car buying journey will continue to begin online for the vast majority of shoppers, but will pivot to a more digital experience as dealers move to include at-home test drives and vehicle deliveries. Build your strategies to meet your customers where they are today and give them a next generation car buying experience. Blend retail models to combine online engagement with traditional dealership interactions. The future of selling cars is in your hands. You just have to adapt to new methods and adopt a digital-first mentality for your inventory and BDC.

Want to learn more about online selling for the future of the automotive industry? Check out all of MAX Digital’s products and solutions which are geared toward helping you meet your customers in the digital frontier and to match the needs of a new customer base searching for online purchasing possibilities. Schedule a demo today.