Difficult times, but dealers have adaptedDealers are on the front line of the automotive industry, facing the Coronavirus onslaught. Many have been quick to respond to the new environment, adopting new digital tools to help them achieve more effective online customer interactions and contactless sales experiences in the retail space.
While the health crisis has not created fundamental change, it has accelerated the trend towards digital channels and superior customer experiences in the digital space. A recent survey reveals how dealers have adapted their social media strategy, with 43% building their online presence to attract more customers to their websites. Some 89% of dealers are positive about their business outlook in the next six months.
Digital coming to the fore
Many dealers have ramped up their adoption of digital technology to enable them to offer more personalised experiences over different channels. They track consumer interactions on their websites and run nurturing processes to bring potential customers to the point at which they can be handed off to a salesperson. Automation is being used to answer chat queries from customers, with more complex interactions being passed to human sales teams.
There is rapidly growing recognition of new opportunities to sell online. Customers can choose their car, view it online supported by video from a salesperson, order and pay for it with all documents being signed online. The only time the customer needs to come face to face with a dealer employee is when they visit the showroom to collect the car or when it is delivered to them. However, most customers still dip in and out of the physical and the digital, reflecting the need for a smooth, efficient and integrated omni-channel purchase experience.
Third party online players are making contactless selling a key feature of their websites. CarGurus, for example, promotes features ranging from virtual appointments, to free test drives at home, all fulfilled by dealers using the CarGurus site, illustrating both the appetite from the consumer and dealers’ willingness to engage in different approaches. The company reports swift uptake, with 43% of paying dealers offering one or more of the features on vehicles they sell through its platform.