Why isn’t digital retailing working for me?

As an early proponent of digital retailing, I’ve seen more success stories than I can remember. The part that always makes me smile, when I hear from thrilled digital retailing users, is how surprised they are by the magnitude of the results.

Of course, no one buys into digital retailing without expecting some positive results; with so many dealers, though, the outcomes are beyond even their wildest expectations. Except for when they aren’t.

Every so often, I talk to a dealer who doesn’t see the value in their digital tools. Their platform, whatever it may be, just isn’t working, and they give up.

It’s disappointing to see people abandoning a way of doing business that has so much potential to change their lives for the better – and to change the industry for the better. A happier digital future is already a reality for more and more dealerships every day, so why do some shops feel left out?

People are now choosing to do more communication online, and they're expressing less insistence on going out to take a test drive. Car and Driver

Make sure your team is engaged

The answer turned out to be simpler than you’d guess: you can’t get customer engagement before you get dealer engagement. If your dealership hasn’t bought into your digital retailing platform, then your customers never will.

When I talk to dealers who get great results with some form of omnichannel digital retailing platform, their methods are always different. Some centralize their entire process around the BDC, while others deputize their sales team to do targeted prospecting through the tool.

What the winners had in common

The only unifying factor among these success stories isn’t in the details, but in the people telling them: every person who had success with digital retailing approached the platform with enthusiasm, and built out a sales process that relied on their online shopping tools. Check out some automotive digital retailing success stories here!

What the unsuccessful had in common

Dealers who saw no meaningful benefits also had a unifying factor: their lack of enthusiasm and active buy-in for the tool. They saw their digital retailing platforms as “just one more widget” that could plug into their websites and generate leads in the background.

What does good automotive digital retailing look like?

Good digital retailing isn’t a widget. If your tool looks like a widget, then it probably can’t offer true digital retailing to your customers. Real DR is a way to mirror your in-store processes online, and to connect those two twinned sales funnels into one seamless and effortless experience for customers and sales professionals alike.

Just like selling a car in the showroom, this requires enthusiasm and training. To be successful, a dealership needs to work with its tool – and the customer support team that goes along with it – to build, maintain, and evolve a better process. You can learn more about training and process development here.

The benefits of a great digital retailing implementation

One of the things I hear from every satisfied digital retailing user is how much easier it makes their lives. With a strong, tested digital retailing sales process, each sale takes less time and less effort to close.

We’ve seen dealerships closing up to 80% of their digital retailing leads. We’ve also seen dealerships closing ~10% of their online leads, and that gulf is down to dealer engagement. Digital retailing isn’t just another lead-gen. tool that sits on your VDP: it’s a powerful and flexible funnel that not only creates leads, but closes them, too.

The only thing you have to do is use it.

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

Sell more cars with less inventory (yes, it’s possible)

As if supply shortages weren’t bad enough already, automakers in every corner of the industry have made it clear that we won’t be getting an influx of new vehicles any time soon thanks to a major consequence of the pandemic: semiconductor shortages.

It’s odd to think that our entire industry could stall like a teenager learning stick on a hill, especially over something as minor as a few microprocessors. But then again, have you been in a car lately? Of course you have, which is why you know how much of even the most basic vehicle depends on computers.

Can you do anything about it?

Great, here we are; no supply, even as demand escalates. Car and Driver recently reported that 40% of car buyers are willing to pay an average of $5,000 USD over MSRP on their next car. It’s basic supply and demand, of course, but increases in demand don’t amount to much if you’ve got nothing to sell.

HOW MUCH BARGAINING POWER DO YOU HAVE? average sold vehicle price vs MSRP

Or do you? Let’s look at some proven ways to sell cars during the supply shortage.

Look beyond the automakers

Car makers may be cutting back their manufacturing with wild abandon – GM suspended production of the Camaro back in March due to semiconductor shortages, and they’re far from alone – but there are still cars out there. Just look out at the nearest street. See any cars? You could be selling those.

Well, not those exact cars… but then again, maybe. When new cars are hard to come by, you need to turn to your preowned car lot.

Get the right tool to power your new strategy

A good digital retailing program is your best friend here. Many platforms are rigid and linear, meaning the customer can’t decide where to start. The top-tier digital retailing solutions, however, do away with these restrictions. We have some great info here about the different types of digital retailing platforms.

This is critical, because it’s how you get more trade-ins, and that’s how you sell more cars during this inventory shortage. By leveraging your flexible digital retailing platform, you can create site-wide CTAs that lead directly to the trade-in module of your online purchase.

Get more trade-ins with TradeFirst from MotoCommerce

Even if your customer isn’t sure what model to buy – or if that model is available right now – they can still engage with you through your trade-in tool. Once they complete their instant appraisal, you’re in complete control.

Encourage customer activity that can be done today

The premiere digital solutions will seamlessly pass the customer through to the next step in the sales process, encouraging them to turn that trade-in evaluation into a complete purchase. Of course, you’ll also receive activity alerts, so you know to reach out when the customer has submitted their trade.

That way, you can deal on your terms. Want to guide the customer preemptively to an in-stock vehicle? Easy. Prefer to secure the trade-in, and leave the customer’s purchase for later? The right digital retailing platform can make that happen. In any case, these tools make it easier to sell, but also easier gain new inventory at a time when that’s the biggest challenge you face.

Success during inventory shortages means building a digital pipeline for preowned vehicles

Carry that momentum forward

Your dealership can no longer afford single-purpose solutions. The industry is changing so rapidly, with so many new hurdles and evolutions, that the only solutions worth having are the ones that grow alongside your needs.

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

How to train your dealership staff the right way

As much as we’d like to believe that salesmanship is a natural-born gift, the truth is that as with anything else, it’s all about training. So what I’m about to tell you is going to sound crazy.

Forget training. When it comes to digital retailing and ecommerce tech, training isn’t your top priority.

Crazy, right? And yet, when we look at the dealerships who are thriving right now, their first step (after getting a digital retailing platform, of course) wasn’t training their team. It was defining the processes that would ensure success.

You’ve probably lots of major industry figures impressing the need for good digital retailing platforms. These platforms were the way forward before the pandemic, and they’re rapidly becoming the standard in the automotive industry.

Thousands of dealerships and even a growing number of automakers have turned to omnichannel digital retailing tools to drive their businesses forward. Pre-approved “certified programs” encourage dealerships to join the trend by choosing an OEM-vetted platform.

Start from the basics for a strong digital foundation

It’s clear that digital retailing is here to stay, but the tool is just the beginning. As more of your competitors join you in digital enlightenment, choosing the right tool only gets you so far. After that, it’s your execution that differentiate your dealership.

Get the right automotive digital retailing tool

The first step in a successful execution is to make sure that you have a true “omnichannel” platform. We know the stats about how many times customers bounce back and forth between in-store and online, even during a pandemic; it’s a lot.

Still trying to choose a tool? Our handy guide can help you out!

“Online becomes a portal to a showroom. When consumers come to dealerships now, they're there to buy." credit card

Your online solution needs to allow customers to shop the “omnichannel” way: creating a deal in-store or online, and then seamlessly carrying on with their purchase as they weave back and forth between your store and your website. It all needs to feel like a single, frictionless experience. That’s where your process comes in.

Eliminate common pain points

Every dealership is different, and while I can’t tell you exactly how to define your personalized digital retailing processes, I can tell you this: the biggest pain points are the transition between online and offline, and the initial lead-handling procedure.

  • Online to offline transition: Fixing this pain point is simple! The sales specialist should already know all the details about the digital shopping cart, and should take over where the website left off. This falls apart when leads aren’t allocated in an orderly and proactive way, starting with the very first point of contact.
  • Initial lead-handling: If you haven’t guessed already, this comes down to your process. Whether it’s your BDC or your sales reps, or even your internet manager, you need to start by defining the person or people who will manage inbound leads, and then script the process from there.

Build processes that offer flexibility and support

This process should leverage your online sales platform to the fullest, enabling the customers to shop themselves rather than encouraging them to come and let you sell to them. Make them aware of the online flexibility, and help them through their digital purchase.

Dealerships will have to operate with fewer workers and lean more heavily on digital platforms for traffic. laptop

Of course, your team always needs to be available for the level of assistance the customer requires. Offer to guide the customer through the online process remotely, and make it clear that they can pick up their purchase in-store if they need a more personal touch.

Make sure everything is clear and streamlined

In essence, you need to have a standard procedure that never makes a customer feel unsure of their next steps. If your car buyer feels confused by the process, or is subjected to a different experience online versus in-store, friction builds up and slows your momentum.

When your entire purchase is predefined, including the transitions between dealership and website, you not only keep the customer happy, but you make it easy to tweak your training and processes based on data—where the customers are falling off, what seems to drive the best engagement, etc.

Leverage data insights to fine-tune your processes

Build a data-driven process for everything, and then train your team to make the most of it. It’s simpler for you, more engaging for customers, and it sells more cars. This is your win-win-win opportunity. You can do it.

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