4 Digital Strategies for a Better Car Buying Experience

For today’s consumers, few things matter more than experience. In fact, according to research from Dealertrack’s new guide, Build Shopper Trust with a New Approach to Retailing, more than 85 percent of shoppers say that experience matters at least as much as a company’s products or services.

That’s not great news for the automotive industry, where consumers have been unsatisfied with the car shopping experience for decades. Their levels of satisfaction have declined in recent years, with a 7 percent decrease among used car shoppers and a 1 percent decrease for new car buyers between the years 2021 and 2022.

Fortunately, you can reverse this trend and take the customer experience to new heights by digitizing processes to create a happier, hybrid car buying experience.

Adopt a New Digital Mindset

Digitization within a dealership begins with a simple, but essential mindset shift. Stop thinking of digitization as merely a way to close more deals in less time. Instead, view digitization as a way to deepen relationships with customers.

In 2023, 43 percent of dealers agreed that digital retailing creates a more personal connection with shoppers—up from just 25 percent the previous year. Just as significantly, fewer dealers view digital retailing as a barrier to forming personal connections with buyers.

Hot tip! Dealertrack’s digital tools actually encourage collaboration between your customers and your staff – initially online, then later in store.

Don’t Make the Consumer Choose

Given the benefits of online shopping, it could be tempting to force consumers through an all-digital path to purchase. But most car shoppers still want to complete some steps in person and in the dealership.

Even among shoppers that start the purchase process online, 75 percent are interested in working with a dealer to continue the purchasing process in person on a tablet. That blend of online and in-person shopping has become known as the hybrid approach to retailing, and it’s the preferred path of most car shoppers.

Hot tip! Dealertrack DMS facilitates connectivity between sales & marketing, fixed ops, inventory management, accounting, and more, so customer data carries across departments and across customer interactions.

Avoid Online-to-In-Store Repetition

For all its benefits, the hybrid approach has also introduced a new level of complication into the car buying process. As shoppers arrive in show rooms, dealers must now decipher which steps those customers have already completed online.

As much as 97 percent of dealers report having difficulty doing so, admitting that their customers who complete steps online end up repeating them in store. Among these dealers, 46 percent said that it decreases customer satisfaction. For those dealers that do figure it out, the rewards can be significant–93 percent of consumers say they are willing to spend more money with companies that don’t make them repeat themselves.

Hot tip! With Dealertrack, you can allow an in-store shopper to review the personal information they submitted online without having to ask them to repeat steps they already completed.

Implement Digital Processes and Powerful Tools

Prioritizing digital processes within a dealership can ensure a smooth, frictionless experience for customers. But, those processes must be paired with powerful tools that connect the entire car buying process, ensuring the continuity of data between dealership tools and departments. Digital tools can now help shoppers perform research and start deals online, figure out financing, review and sign contracts digitally, and even handle their registration and titling electronically.

Hot tip! Dealertrack’s digital tools, like online credit apps and remote signing, can help your dealership give customers the modern experience they want.

For today’s consumers, experience is everything. To meet the demand for a more frictionless experience, dealerships need to digitize their processes and provide a hybrid experience. To be successful, they will need to examine their workflows through a customer lens, then upgrade their digital tools to make sure every customer leaves the lot happy.

Want to learn more about the benefits of dealership digitization? Download the full guide: Build Shopper Trust with a New Approach to Retailing.

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