By now, everyone understands the devastating effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on businesses globally. In simple terms, to remain profitable many businesses needed to pivot and find new ways of providing their customers with the experiences they expect.
The effect was even more profound for car dealerships, who traditionally relied on human interaction to show off their products and make sales. Simply put, when lockdown regulations forced dealerships to close, most had to find innovative approaches to marketing and selling to stay in business. And with uncertainties remaining, it’s expected that these approaches will shape the way car dealerships do business for some time to come.
This post will look at some of these approaches in more detail and how dealerships can use omnichannel technology to improve their marketing, make more sales, and serve their customers better in the new normal.
What Is an Omnichannel Approach to Marketing?
Before looking at how car dealerships can use omnichannel technology to get more leads and make their businesses more efficient, it’s important to understand what an omnichannel approach to marketing is. At its core, an omnichannel approach aims to create a seamless customer experience from the first time the customer interacts with a business to the very last touchpoint.
Now the question is what seamless means in this context. In simple terms, an omnichannel approach requires that every time a customer interacts with a business it should feel like a continuation of their previous interaction.
Why is this important for car dealerships? Well, the answer to that question starts with evolving car buyer behavior. Nowadays, almost half of all car buyers start their purchasing journey online. This means that, rather than going to a physical dealership, they prefer to start their journey in the comfort of their homes or offices.
More importantly, though, is that the car buying experience is still not completely digital. As a result, these customers switch between online and offline channels. Customers typically shift between online and offline channels a few times, and dealerships will continue to play a vital role during their buying journey.
And when they do switch between channels, they expect their preferences to carry over from one touchpoint to the next. It’s this level of personalization that makes for stellar customer experiences.
Using an omnichannel approach allows car dealerships to achieve this. Simply put, it’s a proven fact that if customers get a great experience, they come back for more. 74% of US consumers who want to buy a new car say that a positive customer experience at a dealership will make them return to buy their next vehicle. Developing omnichannel approaches will be vital to remain competitive in the new normal.
How Car Dealerships Can Use Omnichannel Technology
Now that we’ve seen the competitive advantage that omnichannel technology offers to car dealerships, we’ll look at how car dealerships can use an omnichannel approach in their business. To a certain extent, the pandemic created a need for dealerships to adopt and implement an integrated approach to selling and serving their customers.
Keep in mind that, when developing an omnichannel car buying experience, the primary consideration should be the customer. In other words, the customer should be the focus of the experience. Although different customers may prefer different brands and want different experiences, they all want a buying experience that is personalized and tailored to them.
While eCommerce was popular before the pandemic, its popularity exploded during it. This was because most stores were forced to close due to lockdown regulations. As a result, it was expected that there would be 2.14 billion global digital buyers in 2021, and eCommerce sales would make up 18.1% of all retail sales globally.
For car dealerships, the situation was no different. According to 2017 research, up to 65% of car buyers indicated that they would consider buying a car online. Then the pandemic happened and increased the likelihood of making those predictions a reality.
Car dealers in the US reported record profits during the pandemic despite reduced staff and a downturn in the economy. A key factor in this was that nearly 30% of new car sales were completed online during 2020, according to Alan Haig of Haig Partners.
Customer satisfaction was also at its highest levels ever, according to a recent study. And it’s easy to see why, if the online car buying experience takes less time and is far more efficient. As a result, it’s expected that this trend will continue and that eCommerce will make up the majority of car sales in a decade’s time.
So, it’s crucial that car dealerships implement eCommerce and digital showrooms as part of their sales strategies to deliver unifying experiences to their customers whether they shop online or visit the dealership.
It’s no secret that more people are using the Internet and social media now than ever before. According to Statista, there are an estimated 4.8 billion Internet users globally, and this number is expected to increase to 5.6 billion by 2025.
The more time users spend and shop online, the more opportunities these marketers and businesses have to attract and engage with new customers.
Although many businesses were already implementing digital marketing strategies before the pandemic, car dealerships, in general, lagged and needed to adapt. And for those who haven’t, it’s time they do. Thoughtful digital marketing approaches will allow them to market better, sell more, and generate more revenue. In fact, according to recent research, traditional marketing brings in an average profit of about $1700 per vehicle while digital marketing ups this profit to $2500 per sale.
The key takeaway is that digital marketing will become more prevalent and will be vital for success. This trend will be equally important to automobile dealers as more potential buyers take the first steps in buying a car online.
If there’s one thing that the pandemic highlighted, it’s the deficiencies in many supply chains. As factories were forced to close, many businesses were left with diminishing stock to sell. The automotive industry was no exception, with dealerships not only competing for clients but stock as well.
An omnichannel approach where dealerships collaborate with manufacturers allows them to list vehicles on their online platforms, market them, and even sell them to customers before they even get these vehicles in stock. This makes it easier for them to manage their inventory, especially when supply chains are constrained. In turn, this allows them to gain a competitive advantage within their market.
But it goes further than this, though. A major cost driver in the current supply chain and distribution system of any car dealership is the number of cars they need to have in stock. marketing and selling vehicles before they come into stock allows dealerships to reduce these costs and increase their profit.
This has the added benefit of improving the customer experience. Customers can virtually modify cars to their liking, ensuring that they get what they want.
Dealerships can also leverage trade-in technology on their website to generate more quality leads and additional used car inventory.
Close From Anywhere
Before the pandemic and because of regulations, customers generally had to buy a car from a physical dealership even though the technology to get it done virtually existed. As a result of the pandemic, governments generally relaxed these regulations, which allowed car buyers to complete the process without needing to visit a dealership. Consumers can now more easily decide on their next car online, get trade-in quotes, and buy in one seamless process.
Because of this, customers now have more options when it comes to buying, and it is expected that this trend will continue. Here, an omnichannel approach contributes significantly. For one, it eliminates a lot of the time, hassle, and paperwork from the sales process, which, in turn, reduces friction. An omnichannel strategy also reduces pressure on the customer and gives dealerships more opportunities for engagement. Overall it’s a win-win.
Traditionally, most employee interactions within a car dealership were in-person. Also, salesperson performance would be measured manually, and there would be regular sales meetings, and a sales manager would direct salespeople. However, during the pandemic, this was simply not possible.
Here, an omnichannel approach is invaluable. It gives dealerships a more efficient way to track and measure the activities of salespeople and other staff. When they’re able to measure it, they get valuable insights into their business and sales processes. This allows them to improve and optimize their processes to make the dealership more efficient and the staff more productive.
The Bottom Line
Just like most other businesses, car dealerships will need to continue adapting to the new normal as it shapes the industry for years to come. They’ll need to adopt an omnichannel approach that allows them to market better and sell more, and serve their customers better.
To learn more about how TradePending fits into the omnichannel puzzle, visit our website for more details. For example, Trade powers trade-in leads to maximize website conversions. Offer provides configurable and accurate trade-in offers, while Badges boosts online inventory merchandising to create powerful talk tracks and urgency with the buyers.