The car dealership trends that will define 2022

In 2020, the industry scrambled for solutions in response to sudden and unexpected showroom restrictions.

In 2021, dealerships tried everything to combat the massive supply shortages that now plague nearly every industry. So how does that shape the dealership trends going into 2022?

Well, in case you hadn’t guessed, you’re going to want to double-down on digital. A lot of dealers have maintained an enduring distrust of digital tools and trends, and still want to view traditional methods as the “default.”

Unfortunately for those dealers, digital is the new default. The massive digitization of every service over the past two years has shown consumers how much easier life is when all their options are clearly and transparently laid out online. They’re not interested in giving that up. A focus on your online presence is the dealership trend you need to understand in 2022.

Like it or not, the digital revolution presents new opportunities

In a recent interview, Shark Tank panelist and infamous businessman Kevin O’Leary admitted that his priorities have shifted permanently as a result of the pandemic.

“I used to tell people, there’s three careers if you’re going to go to college and invest in yourself: engineering, engineering, and engineering,” says O’Leary. “But now, you know who I’m hiring? Story writers, videographers, photographers, editors… because all of my companies are telling stories on their websites.”

all of my companies are telling stories on their websites quote by kevin o'leary

The digitization of consumer purchasing isn’t just about the online sale itself; it’s about the potential to connect more thoroughly with a much broader audience. Digital content marketing is now the gateway to sales success in 2022. For more on that, see our digital marketing tips here!

Why is this trend good for dealers?

You now have more tools than ever for engaging and converting your audience. The internet puts all your prospects in one place, and gives you countless ways to prompt them down the path to purchase. It’s what your customers are waiting for, according to O’Leary.

“Never in our lives… have we had such a captive customer,” says O’Leary “…they are willing and able to purchase products and services, but they want it done conveniently and delivered directly to them… This is the digitization of America in a very fast way.”

Even so, strong digital marketing and storytelling can only get the user to engage with your dealership – it can’t sell the car. That’s where an equally powerful (and transparent) online platform shines. You can read up on how to get the right platform here.

Your website needs to shine

When your Facebook ads, video content, or email campaign has brought a customer to your website, the experience can’t suddenly end in a Y2K approximation of online shopping; that’s not the convenience and transparency your customers came looking for.

they want it done conveniently and delivered directly to them

Instead, you need the power of a flexible, configurable digital retailing tool that continues to offer customers a convenient way to buy. All possible options should be clear and present, including payment calculators, accessories, and trade valuations.

This is the trend that will define your dealership in 2022

It’s the consumer demand for a complete online experience that seamlessly carries them from storytelling to prospecting to the online purchase. If you want a customer to do something, you need to make that action equally easy whether they do it from your showroom or from their couch.

The path to purchase has changed, and so has the purchase itself. To reach as many customers as possible – and convert them – you need to view your sales process and your marketing activities as a single, continuous system that tells a story, promotes your value, and offers a simple way to buy remotely.

Ready to sell more cars? See how your dealership can thrive online today.

What does digital retailing look like going into 2022?

If this year felt like another blurry jumble of months and days, you’re not alone. Sometimes, I wake up expecting my calendar to tell me we’re 88 weeks into March, 2020; other days, August 2021 seems like a lifetime ago.

Whether you’ve experienced the passage of time or not, our industry sure has. The issue still on everyone’s mind is the supply shortages that have turned every dealer into a savvy seller of preowned vehicles, but the biggest change I’ve noticed in the past year and a half is the way cars are being sold.

What you need to know about automotive digital retailing for 2022

Let’s take a minute to recap the monumental changes we’ve experienced over the course of the pandemic, and see the lessons that so much of our industry learned through a trial by fire.

Flexibility is the key to survival

Perhaps the first lesson learned by dealers in the early weeks of the pandemic was the importance of flexibility. Consumer habits and needs can shift in an instant, and the dealers who use adaptable, future-proof tools are the ones who will be positioned to thrive.

That’s what we saw with digital retailing: dealers with the most advanced, fully featured digital retailing platforms reacted swiftly and successfully to lockdowns, partial re-openings, and every other curveball thrown their way.

Now, as consumers grow dependent on these digital tools to purchase cars even as showrooms reopen, the dealers with the most experience using digital retailing are the ones best suited to excel. The dealers who had no digital tools, or who had half-measures, may still be playing catch-up. You can find some tips on finding a great digital retailing platform for your dealership over here.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

It sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many dealerships relied on simple, out-of-the-box solutions to satisfy their digital needs. As the market matured rapidly over the course of 2020 and 2021, the differences between the customizable digital retailing solutions and the one-size offerings became clear.

Your customers’ buying habits never stop evolving. A flexible digital retailing solution keeps you on top, no matter what else changes

Your dealership runs differently than the one in another city; your dealership probably runs differently than the shop across the street. Having the flexibility to configure your digital retailing platform according to your needs, your team, your inventory, and your customer base is critical.

If I had to choose the number one reason dealers met with unsatisfactory results online, it’s that they didn’t (or couldn’t) tailor their tool to meet their needs. Not happy with your results? Check out our guide to solving common mistakes dealers make online!

The advanced digital retailing solution is always the right one

Not every car buyer needs the most advanced tech package you have available. You may not have bought the most sophisticated smartphone on the market, and I don’t blame you. Who really needs that many cameras on one phone?

The same isn’t true of digital retailing. A good digital solution doesn’t just patch a few holes today; it creates new possibilities for outreach strategies, re-engagement tactics, sales automation, and so much more. It’s not about what you know you need today, but what you didn’t realize you wanted for tomorrow.

Dealers who bought into the top-tier digital retailing platforms out of necessity – to keep their shops open during lockdowns – realized the potential to accomplish more than they did even before their physical doors closed.

Dealers on MotoCommerce digital retailing closed 30% of their online prospects, compared with 10% across the rest of the industry

Automotive digital retailing is now essential to success

Even two years ago, digital retailing was the choice of visionaries and future-forward disruptors. It wasn’t necessary, but it certainly offered the tech-savvy dealership a way to differentiate their business and accelerate their success.

Now, at the end of 2021, digital retailing is the norm. Even for regions where in-person shopping has returned in force, consumers have seen how easy it is to shop the way they’ve wanted to for years: digitally.

Whether online, in-person, or (more commonly) a combination of the two, the top digital retailing platforms offer a more streamlined, consistent, and efficient experience for customers, but also for your own team. There’s no going back to the way things were, and that’s a good thing.

After the automotive industry upheaval in 2020 and 2021, we can see that the digital future has arrived early. We can also see that it’s not as clear-cut or binary as “digital or not digital.” (Read more on that here.) By looking back at the lessons of the past nearly-two-years, we can etch a path forward that leads to greater efficiency, profit, and peace of mind.

Ready to sell more cars? See how your dealership can thrive online today.

Easy (and measurable) ROI from your dealership’s digital ads

Advertising has come a long way from the whiskey-fueled, abstract creativity of Don Draper. As much as I enjoyed the AMC hit show Mad Men, I think that’s for the best – and not just for the obvious reasons. Dealership advertising in the digital age may have lost some of the ‘60s allure, but it has gained a level of sophistication and clarity that didn’t exist when businessmen still wore fedoras.

Digital tools from ABM campaigns to remarketing to mass analytics have created transparency throughout the advertising process, making it shockingly easy to manage lead attribution, and to tailor increasingly effective dealership ad campaigns.

“We have to find the right alchemy between creativity and technology” Wall Street Journal

So why is lead attribution and conversion still so difficult at the dealership? Are automotive consumers somehow different from any other type? Actually, it’s the exact opposite: your customers are trying to shop your dealership exactly how they shop for jeans, laptops, and nearly everything else. The key to stronger dealership advertising online is to make that kind of digital shopping experience a reality.

What are you missing?

We know that most car buyers start online, and do the bulk of their research from their computers and phones. You’re probably already meeting your customers where they shop – the internet. But what next? Even if your ads drive people to the website, there’s an invisible barrier that slows their progress and obscures your lead attribution numbers.

what are your dealership customers doing online? forbes

Identifying barriers on your website

When a customer lands on your website from a digital ad, their journey effectively ends. Sure, they can probably use a widget or two and find out some basic payment info, or even request a test drive. But once they’ve decided to come into the store, they have to start a new journey – one that is more cumbersome, and much more difficult to attribute.

The missing link is simple: a platform that bridges the chasm between your website and your showroom. To make the most of your dealership’s online ads, you need to keep the momentum going all the way to final signature.

Find the right bridge between ad, site, and showroom

That’s only possible with a fully featured digital retailing platform. With the right omnichannel tool, you can capture your leads directly from a digital advertisement, and lead them into a purchase funnel that not only conforms to the needs of each individual car buyer, but which carries the customer straight into your showroom along with all the relevant lead information.

You can learn more about choosing a tool like this over here.

What does that look like in action?

With a platform like this, your physical showroom is an extension of your website – and vice-versa. The attribution model is no longer broken when a customer appears in-store, and you have more data and insight that can help build even more effective ad campaigns.

Best of all, this sort of retailing model removes hurdles for customers, too. With a more streamlined, consistent experience, your leads are more likely to become guests, and your guests are more likely to become sales. It’s the omnichannel digital retailing experience that elevates the seller and the buyer.

When you connect your ads to your website and your website to your store with the right digital retailing tool, you’ll be amazed by how easily you can increase conversion, ROI, and even your customer satisfaction score.

Ready to sell more cars? See how your dealership can thrive online today.