The automotive industry has been greatly disrupted by COVID-19 and less in-person visits to dealerships are forcing companies to move to selling cars online. Rhett Ricart, CEO of Ricart Automotive Group, predicts that 80%-90% of car dealers will have full-eCommerce buying options by the end of the year. This move to selling cars all-online is bringing with it new challenges, one of which is creating a user experience that will attract buyers and be convincing enough to sell cars with digital showrooms.
Snappr invited guest speaker Drew Delaware, head of marketing from Gubagoo, to share his insights on what road blocks the automotive industry is facing and what best practices dealerships need to implement to sell more cars online.
Part 1 Awareness
Using customer experience (CX) to stand out in a crowded marketplace
With less people stepping into dealerships in-person, car sellers will need to depend more on their websites to drive engagement, generate leads, and close out sales online. Having a modern and effective online customer experience is going to be essential and according to Drew, automotive dealers that are focusing on providing a great online experience are the ones that are winning customers in today’s market.
Drew mentions designing a customer experience, or CX, from the buyer’s point of view. When buyers visit a car website they are not only looking for inventory, but they are also looking for information and have questions that they want answered. Communication is a critical part of CX and Drew highly recommends that dealers engage with customers through chat or through video while they are on the website.
Dealers can update their customers on the current deals or promos or can offer advice on picking out a vehicle. Talking with a customer online is the first step to relationship building and will help dealers nurture leads to sell more online. Being able to communicate with a real person also makes buyers feel more appreciated and improves the dealer’s credibility. These are important factors because buyers are not viewing cars in person and dealers will need to convince buyers that they are trustworthy if they are to succeed in selling cars online.
How to create trust online by focusing on transparency
Dealers will be fighting an uphill battle and will need to overcome the stigma of the sleazy car salesman who is only out to take the customer’s money. To create more trust online, dealers should offer information to buyers easily, without ransoming their personal information. Drew warns against optimizing a website too much on getting lead form fill outs, which not only creates a worse customer experience but can also damage a dealer’s credibility.
Focusing on lead generation makes more sense when buyers can visit dealers in person. The buyer’s online experience is not as important because trust can be repaired or won at the dealership. But when buyers are buying cars all-online, it is critical that dealers don’t sacrifice trustworthiness for lead generation. For dealers to be successful online they need to provide accurate pricing upfront, and not hide information behind leadform walls.
How to merchandise vehicles online and the importance of photography
In order to sell cars online dealers need to merchandise their inventory for an online audience. This means having good descriptions, clear and transparent pricing, and most importantly having the best photos for each car they are trying to sell online. When buyers visit a dealer’s website they are primarily looking for photos, in fact Snappr surveyed 600 car buyers and found that viewing car photos was 3 times more important than reading descriptions and 4.2 times more important than viewing service and accident records.
Dealers should focus on showing high-quality car pictures and make vehicle information easy to find. This creates the best online experience and increases the likelihood buyers will return to the website or share links with friends and family. Making information easy to find also helps dealers cut down on low quality leads, such as simple questions about pricing, and help dealers focus on higher quality leads where they can actually provide valuable assistance and really impress the buyer in the process.
Want to learn even more? Be sure to check out part 2 of Snappr’s interview with Drew Delaware where he talks about how to warm up the digital showroom and make online car-buying more personalized.
Insights from Gubagoo Part 2: Improving retention and engagement
Insights from Gubagoo Part 3: Closing the deal
Enjoyed this Snappr interview and want to be a guest speaker yourself? Contact Snappr Enterprise to help drive the thought leadership of automotive sales.