Automotive digital retailing is using digital technologies to better connect digital showrooms with physical ones. It’s also about seamlessly connecting online showrooms to physical in-showroom experiences.

Reasons consumers like to shop online (particularly in automotive):

  • Being able to shop 24/7
  • Comparison shop (particularly price)
  • Saves time
  • Convenience 

The car dealership that employs automotive digital retailing strategies have higher gross profit margins.

3 car dealership strategies that enable automotive digital retailing

  • Provide the consumer with as much information online about the car as possible

Automotive digital retailing provides the car buying consumer with not only critical information but as much information on the car as possible. Don’t stop at just the features of the car. Provide history reports, previous owners, links to reviews, price charts, etc. Car buying consumers want to feel like they know everything there is to know about the car when they contact you. This information needs to reside on your car  dealership website.

  • Structure a deal online

Car buying consumers, once deeply enough down the sales funnel, want to be able to structure a deal online. Your adverts or your car dealership website should almost get them close to a deal structure as possible. This way you have captured their attention. Let your online website do this, so the consumer gets a feel of what they will pay before contacting you or even getting to your dealership.

  • Handle more parts of the purchasing process online

After structuring a deal online theoretically, let’s assume the consumer is ready to buy. Let the car buying consumer handle part of the purchasing process online. On your car dealership website. Look into your business and see whether there are operational processes you can digitize and bring online. Car dealers are often hesitant to give up control to the consumer before meeting them. But, this is what car buyers want, give them the control. Manage the experience. Don’t try and force the car buyer to make themselves known prematurely. They will make themselves known when you give them enough value first. Give before your receive & they will come to you! Example: Allow the customer to start their purchasing / finance process online and then fulfil in your car dealership

Car buyers are more likely to service their cars at the dealership that they bought it from if there is an online scheduling and cost estimate option on your dealership’s website. Consumers don’t want to be embarrassed when they are quoted on the phone and then have to say they can’t afford it! Let them be more anonymous online by automating the estimates. This will also save you resources and overhead at the top of the funnel.

What happens to car dealership sales people in the future

If you’re a sales person, you may be worried about your job in the future. All this talk about automotive digital retailing and using the car dealership website as the enabler. The job of the sales person in a car dealership then becomes what it was always designed to be, which is not a deal structure expert, but a product expert. To help the consumer learn more about the product. I.e. the car. 

Sales people are currently structuring deals, but if part of the process shifts online, they become more product specialists. Instead of spending an hour with F&I for instance, the consumer is immersed in the product they came to buy. Then showrooms become a place to cultivate and educate customers building trust through experience -- solving consumer problems. Your car dealership brand grows.

As a car dealership ask yourself these questions:

  • have I understood where the car buying consumers attention is in this attention economy, particularly for your car dealership brand? 
  • have I started thinking about how I communicate with car buying consumers? 
  • am I still operating in the world of advertising or has my mind shifted to being a marketing company that sells cars? 
  • have I started thinking about starting an automotive digital retailing strategy? 
  • have I critically looked at my website from a mobile device?

I urge you to answer these questions and if you don’t get it right, that’s ok, do what we did: test, learn, fall, get up, change! And it hurts sometimes but you’ll get up stronger in the end!