The digital age can bring a wealth of opportunity. However, to take advantage, you need far more than a DIY website and an email address.
Those who are winning the internet race have fully embraced e-sales into their sales processes.
Changing the face of the car buyer
Some might suggest that a tactile purchase such as a car or van doesn’t lend itself well to the internet.
However, statistics seem to prove otherwise. According to Yahoo, 74% of purchasers now use web search as part of the buying process.
It is also reported that most purchases will be over two thirds complete before the buyer even contacts the eventual seller.
Research is nothing new, but rather than travel around looking at vehicles, the modern buyer will research online, trusting the reviews of fellow purchasers far more than information from the dealer.
How are dealers adapting?
Branded car dealerships are adopting much more sophisticated marketing machines to bring the driving experience to customer mobile phones and tablets.
Videos are now focused more and more on the driving experience, and compelling visuals drive the consumer desire.
Simple “build your own” car, choosing colours & options make the entire experience very personal.
But what about the used car market?
Most dealers tend to focus on a basic set of pictures of the vehicle and historical data (mileage, owners, condition, etc.).
This is fine if you are targeting customers who already know which car they want. However, this is little help to someone who's at the start of their research journey.
Could this be an opportunity to educate potential buyers with video and learn from main dealer colleagues?
Those that help the buyer with information will build confidence and increase brand awareness and trust.
Where are the buyers hanging out?
In the used car market sites such as Autotrader and eBay continue to dominate, with Phuong Nguyen, UK head of eBay Advertising, reporting that a car was sold every minute through their site during 2013!
Car supermarket sites such as Car Giant also continue to grow, based on a volume pricing, low margin model.
However, more agile smaller dealers are stealing a march on some of their sales by offering internet-based “Auction buys to order”, which takes the hassle out of the purchase and avoids the need to have large stockpiles of vehicles.
Social media trading is also growing, and several motor trade sites are seeing increasing success via Twitter and Facebook advertising.
Where should you start?
If you want to increase your e-trading capability, start to map our your customer buying journey and integrate your business into the process at the various buying stages; from research, right through to test drive and after-sales.
The following are some of our top digital motor trade tips:
- Make sure your website is responsive (suitable for mobile or tablet visitors). Yahoo report that 83% of mobile consumers are looking to make a purchase within 24 hours!
- Live Chat – Customers still value advice, but they may not want to call. Chat facilities can provide a cost-effective yet personal solution. A recent report at AM-Online highlighted that half of chat sessions converted to a hot lead!
- Allocate someone to handle E-Enquiries – Most consumers will be researching their purchase out of regular hours, and you may want to look at accessibility and responsiveness. A recent report by Auto Trader market research director Nick King mystery shopped 2000 dealerships, and an astonishing 50% failed to respond to an online enquiry. If you are the first to reply and engage, then you could gain valuable brand loyalty and additional leads.
- WiFi – It’s well worth providing customer WiFi within your showroom. Not only will this keep visitors engaged, but some consumers may also want to review bank information, vehicle reviews etc., while at your premises if they go away for further research, they may not return!
- Review Sites – Get your business added to review sites where potential customers can leave testimonials. This is a great way to build trust and engagement.
What about Trade Insurance?
It would be remiss of me not to look at the motor trade insurance angle! A standard traders policy will not include digital risks such as:
- Libel and slander (If you or your employees are posting to social media this is a growing risk)
- Website / IT system hacking – As your business grows more reliant on e-business, hacking can become more of an issue. Internet and email cover will provide cover to re-instate, repair or replace damage to the website and back-office systems.
- Loss of Customer data – Your systems likely hold personal customer data, if this is lost or accidentally released, you could face significant legal liability.
- Copyright infringement – Accidental use of protected trademarks is another growing problem, and cyber liability policies will protect you against such losses.
Specialist internet and email (cyber liability insurance) cover is available in addition to your standard trade policy will provide a cost-effective solution to modern-day digital exposures.
Free Motor Trade Insurance Review
Insync Insurance will provide a free consultation and review of your Motor Trade Insurance and have access to specialist underwriters providing policies from part-time road risks to full vehicle dealerships. Book a free review via our website or call 0330 1240730 for more information.