Car dealerships have used to bet on offline sales. But recently keeping business offline only is causing a massive decrease in sales. And the role of online will be growing in the future. How do car dealers overcome challenges and catch opportunities of the new era?
We have the answer! In the article, we will explore both challenges and opportunities the new era brings to the car selling businesses. As well as give you some ideas on how to handle them with the help of IT.
Challenges to Overcome
Just consider four facts.
- Currently, 6 out of 10 car buyers are undecided during the start of their purchase.
- Almost every buyer begins the customer journey from the Internet.
- An overwhelming majority of buyers rely on third-party sites like trading platforms, marketplaces, or online auctions.
- Finally, a massive stake of people even during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic stood for online-only car purchases in the future.
Percentage of people from China, India, and the UK who will choose the next car online only
As you can see, the average car dealer faces:
— Lowering of the role of offline activities versus the online.
— Customers who are potentially highly responsive to online marketing collateral.
— Rock-solid market position of marketplaces, auctions, and other side online services.
To overcome these challenges, the dealer should have powerful ecommerce and digital marketing tools; be widely presented at third-party sites; provide clients a full range of required services without the need of visiting a showroom.
Sounds too complicated? Let’s explore how to achieve it, and you’ll understand that there is nothing special for those who are familiar with the question.
How the Dealers Can Succeed With the Help of IT
Well, all the solutions to overcome the challenges described below are IT-related at all events. For the avoidance of any doubt, we’ve divided them into three groups within the meaning:
— Raising overall business efficiency.
— Increasing sales and revenue.
— Improving customer experience and loyalty.
Raising the Overall Business Efficiency
Cost-saving is one of the most common benchmarks of business efficiency increasing. Which, in return, most often tied to downsizing. The current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is fully supporting the trend. But the question that remains is how to keep the quality of service on the same level after the staff cuts.
A Story of Ballsy U.S. Regional Car Dealer
The local seller of both new and used cars has faced heavy issues with the site built on Drupal 7. The site:
did not support modern modules;
raised security concerns;
did not allow adding new features without sacrificing performance;
has an outdated design.
Expanice team decided to rebuild the site using Drupal 9. So, we've got a possibility:
to clean up old unused modules;
to optimize HTML layout structure, and JS scripts. These steps resulted in more than doubled loading speed.
The content management process was in quite poor shape at that time. It required a team to spend a lot of time preparing smooth content migration.
Drupal 9, among others, has brought Layout Builder and Paragraphs modules. These two modules are powerful tools for effective visual layout.
We also set up static content delivery using CDN. The network accelerates the delivery of weighty types of content. Which helped increasing user experience, as well.
One more request was to establish a proper CI/CD workflow. Drupal 7 was causing database schema corruption when working on several features. After migrating to Drupal 9, the issue disappeared. The reliable CI/CD processes gave a boost in the number and quality of releases made on the daily basis. Moreover, the development process has gotten much smoother than it was before.
Conducting sales online-only, of course, is the most efficient way to lower spendings. Being in accordance with the latest tendencies, this approach makes it possible to massively increase the number of customers a salesperson can handle. When the potential customer asks for assistance, the staff member on duty that time almost immediately begins communication. Further, a traditional approach requires spending much time just waiting for the customer, trips, etc. Do not forget about showroom maintenance costs cut.
Automated test drive booking, as well as test drives without the salespersons, are brilliant ways to cut down expenses. Potential customer, or “head”, books a car. Then, on the scheduled date and time, he or she gets access to the required car with a key inside, which opens electronically by the software. Both operations save tons of staff’s working hours, by the way very fitting the demand of the audience for social distancing. Once the car is sold, the dealer can provide its delivery right to the front door. In this way, all the paperwork.
In technological meaning, the last feature is pretty similar to car-sharing services. A smart IoT device with GPS tracker inside the car controls its location, locks and unlocks doors when needed, as well as block ignition or turn on the alarm in certain situations. If to speak about costs, the software part is implemented as a feature only once, while smart devices can be removed after the sale and installed on another car.
Increasing the Sales
To keep the sales process up and running, today’s car dealers must build an efficient set of digital marketing tools.
As we said before, today the presence at marketplaces and other third-party websites is a must-have for car dealers. This process can be easily automated: specifically formatted data is sent to the websites via APIs. The approach is proven as highly efficient, reliable, and secure.
Analysis and optimization of the sales funnel using marketing analysis tools is what differs good business from the mediocre one regardless of niche. From the very first encounter, a website is collecting valuable data about customer’s behavior. The data then transforms into business intelligence. This one makes it available to learn from your own mistakes, improving conversion rates at each and every stage of the funnel.
Upsells using in-vehicle infotainment could be rather high, sometimes even outperforming the main revenue channel. Being aware of the demands and desires of car owners, you can sell them complementary goods and services quite effectively. It could be fuel, repair, cleaning, car accessories, rent of a semi. It could even be third-party goods and services sharing revenue with you as a seller.
For the dealers selling both new and used cars, an automated trade-in and buy-back option could be brilliant. Having a customer with focused needs, the system automatically finds all the cars matching. Then software connects with their owners, offering them a deal on mutually beneficial conditions.
UPD. Do you have a hard time working remotely? Well, the lack of direct sales opportunity makes the job rather challenging and far less efficient. Face-to-face interaction is an essential part of the car selling process. It's the thing that is boosting sales better than anything else.
But I have a piece of excellent news: the solution already exists! Personal live streams open a way to be on the same wavelength with the customer even remotely. The case in point is named Eyezon, a tool, allowing customers to request live streams between them and the salespersons on-demand.
The service (in the case of a car dealership) works as follows:
- After the registration, clients are getting access to a special admin panel. The tool is geared for making custom buttons and chat pop-ups. One more important feature of the panel is listing the staff who have access to streams.
- Visitors of your website see the live stream buttons placed on product cards or wherever else based on your preference. Once the customer has clicked the button, the pop-up with a short countdown arrives. At the same time, those team members who set their status as "active", instantly receive notifications in their mobile apps.
- The countdown duration can also be set in accordance with the business needs. This short pause gives a car dealer a little while to reach the required car and to get prepared for a call.
- Once the stream has started, the dealer can communicate with the customer in a way he made it offline, giving full play to the most efficient sales approaches. Moreover, the tool allows customers and salespersons to interact via built-in chat when the steam is over.
- Each sales specialist also has access to the dashboard for personal performance review.
The Eyezon service is quite young but polished enough for providing a positive interaction experience for both customers and salesmen. The pricing model is common for all the clients, that's why Eyezon is particularly attractive for car dealers and those merchants which margin per sale is the highest. Its great potential, coupled with highly affordable prices, both acted as triggers for including this part in the article.
As you know for sure, remarketing is a relatively cheap and effective way of customer acquisition. A satisfied returning customer isn’t only an efficient source of revenue. Being an advocate of your brand, such a customer also helps to attract new ones for free.
What are the specific features that could help car dealers improve their customer experience? First of all, remote diagnostics. The tool helps the dealer (and the owner, of course) to be aware of the physical situation of the car. Today’s car has 100+ ECUs on average, so receiving and processing the data from these units within the cloud is a way to keep fully informed about machine health.
Once the impairment is detected, the system can initiate the car repair booking process, making it possible to create an appointment for the most convenient time and date. A lack of queues and waiting is one of the ways to make your customers satisfied with the service.
Providing a variety of payment options is quite important for car buyers. For example, ACH is quite heavy in security but offers the lowest ever fees. When you spend a massive amount of money it is quite necessary to save some.
Finally, additional informational services via in-vehicle infotainment are sometimes very helpful. For the company, it means just a one-time investment into the feature development. But customers will value the convenience of the service for sure.
So, the success of the car dealer today is tied to IT, the rest is just paperwork. As you can see, there is nothing impossible here. And if you plan to keep the business competitive, consider the provided solutions thoroughly.
If you have any questions or objections on the topic, feel free to ask them here or wherever it is convenient for you!