With online car sales soaring, there has never been a better time for dealers to break away from the old “get ‘em into the store” mindset and start thinking more along the lines of “get ‘em onto your website.” While most dealers have embraced an online/in-store hybrid model, there’s still a lot of reluctance to offer a 100% online-only buying process. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you have to be willing to adapt to change. But, before we get into that, you need to make sure that your website is up-to-date and operating at optimal levels.
Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and an auto intender’s first impression of your dealership is most likely online. Approximately 86% of car shoppers conduct online research before deciding to visit a local dealership.
So, here are some basics when it comes to the functionality and look of your site:
- Are you mobile-friendly? According to an Ipsos Media study commissioned by Facebook, 71% of all respondents use mobile at some point during the purchase process. If your website isn’t properly optimized for a smaller screen, it could contain overlapping elements and features that aren’t visible or usable to mobile shoppers, and frankly, are just unpleasant to look at. Your mobile site should be designed so that customers can navigate just as easily as if they were on a desktop. Even more so, with the ability to place a call to the sales team, schedule service appointments, or get directions with just one tap.
- 3-second rule. Website speed is the first impression you will ever make. 57% of visitors will leave the site if the page takes more than 3 seconds to load. 80% of those visitors will never come back to visit the website, and almost half of them will communicate to friends the negative experience. It’s vital that your site loads fast to give a better user experience. Delaying webpage load time by even one second reduces customer satisfaction by approximately 16%.
- Smooth sailing. Easy navigation plays a major role in the retention of your visitors. Therefore, it’s extremely important that your website is clean and clutter-free, and that visitors have the ability to search content, access different types of available vehicles through a drop-down menu, search inventory, apply for financing, and request a trade-in value, as well as other features, all from the homepage.
- High-quality photos. Whenever possible, use professional-level photos of the actual inventory for your VDP. The vehicles should be pulled out, away from other vehicles in stock, and photographed at every angle, both exterior and interior.
- Advanced search. With so many different options and trim levels out there, make it easier for your customers by providing advanced search filters on your inventory pages. Color, drivetrain, model type, trim, price range – all will help potential customers narrow their choices to the exact model they’re looking for.
- Full vehicle details. Every customer has his or her priority list when it comes to features. From the type of engine to whether or not the exterior mirrors are heated or if the radio has a “scan” button, list as much information as possible for every vehicle in stock. You never know if one of these features, no matter how inconsequential you think it is, will be the deciding factor when the customer makes their final choice, so make sure to include complete descriptions for each vehicle.
In our latest 60-Second Automotive Update, Intermark emphasizes the importance of having a fast, functional, and mobile-friendly website that makes the buying process as quick and easy as possible. Watch it now:
Remember when I mentioned a 100% online buying process? Well, you may not be there yet, but it needs to be an option for your customers. The COVID pandemic changed the way a lot of things have been done and car buying is no different. Consumers are becoming more and more open to the idea of being able to complete a sale, end to end, online. According to a 2020 COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study by Cox Automotive, two out of three car shoppers are now more likely to buy a vehicle 100% online. However, even if your website doesn’t offer a fully integrated process, an overwhelming majority of car shoppers prefer a dealership where they can at least start the buying process online.
When it comes to online car buying consumer habits, here are some interesting facts:
- 90% of car shoppers prefer a dealership where they can start the buying process online. And, almost 60% feel more comfortable starting this process on a dealer’s website compared to third-party sites. (CDK Global)
- 70% of shoppers expected to find the ability to configure a payment on a dealership website. (CDK Global)
- 83% indicated that online buying technology would help them narrow down their vehicle choice and determine what is affordable. (CDK Global)
- 80% of shoppers say they would likely configure a payment online. (CDK Global)
- 60% said they would configure a payment and provide contact information. (CDK Global)
- Of those surveyed, more than 50% said they would configure a payment and start the credit process. (CDK Global)
- 54% of consumers would buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience, even if it didn’t have the lowest price. (Autotrader)
- 72% would visit dealerships more often if the buying process was improved. (Autotrader)
- Car shoppers visit an average of 4.2 websites when car shopping, with 81% visiting at least 2 websites. (CoxAuto)
- Digital becomes more important along the entire purchase funnel. Less than one-third of younger consumers want to conduct car sales in-person at the dealership, and more respondents are interested in contactless service. (McKinsey)
- 18% of auto shoppers would buy a vehicle sooner if there was an online purchase option. (ThinkWithGoogle)
- Car shoppers express an increased desire to complete some of the car-shopping processes online, especially price negotiations and online financing. (Cars.com)
- 48% of consumers want to handle price negotiations online. (Cars.com)
- 42% say they want to handle financing online. (Cars.com)
- 9 out of 10 consumers are more likely to buy from a dealership that offers at least one component of digital retailing, and shoppers who use a digital retailing tool are more likely to submit leads. (CoxAuto)
Consumers are more demanding and have more options today, so dealerships must step up their online game to cater to their customers and garner new business. According to Cox Automotive, buyers spend almost half their time at a dealer on negotiations and paperwork, which are their top pain points.
Here are some tools that you must have on your website to make their experience as painless as possible:
- Live chat, text, or messenger, available to answer customers’ questions 24/7.
- Instant credit application so they know exactly how much they are approved for before browsing your inventory.
- Trade value app for customers who want to sell or trade in their current vehicle.
- Current and accurate contact info for your personal dealer concierge. Not just a phone number to the main line at your store, but an actual person’s name, direct line, and email address.
- Virtual test drive videos for each new model you sell. Just because the customer isn’t there in person doesn’t mean they can’t experience the feel of how the car drives.
- An app to schedule home delivery of your customer’s new vehicle.
- And finally, since your dealership’s fixed ops departments are vital to retaining customers and earning repeat sales, a schedule service app is also key.
Although the purchase journey itself happens online, the purchase often still happens offline. So, you can still “get ‘em into the store” but you must first get them (and keep them) on your website.
If you would like Intermark Automotive to ‘look under the hood’ of your website, contact us today!
by Shea Posey, Senior Account Executive/Compliance & Co-op Specialist