Don’t Fall Behind: Keep Up with Today’s Digital Consumers

Did digitization change the way buyers interact with your dealership? Or have today’s buyers—and their shifting habits—altered the course forever of the retail automotive process? Time may tell but for now, one thing is clear: a failure to adapt will cost you sales, service clients, and team members! Don’t go ‘the way of the dodo.’ Keep up with thriving dealers and follow the advice below.

Embrace a Hybrid Approach

In the past 18 months, the trend toward shopping for cars online has been dramatically accelerated. In fact, two out of three customers are more likely to buy a vehicle 100% online, according to the 2020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Digital Shopping Survey. Still, your dealership can’t simply switch to an all-virtual model without leaving a significant portion of your existing customer base behind.

To satisfy both sets of customers, embrace a hybrid car buying approach. That means giving customers the choice to complete as much or as little of the car buying process online as they want. This gives your customers the best of both worlds, while also offering some mixture of in-person and online buying.

According to a recent Cox Automotive research study, the vast majority (84%) of top dealers (those dealers that have become both more profitable and more efficient since the start of the pandemic), say that offering more digital options to customers is critical to retail success. That’s compared to just 64% of static dealers.

Align Communication Channels with Consumer Preferences

As your dealership keeps pace with modern shoppers, it’s important to adapt your communications channels as well. As evidenced by the shift to more online shopping, the car-buying consumer tends to gravitate toward convenience. In communication, that convenience includes more emails and text messaging and fewer in-person visits and phone conversations.

Just like adopting a hybrid car buying approach, give your customers options by providing a variety of communications channels. Cater to customers who want to text and email just as you would to those who prefer more traditional communication. The transition to a digital-centered sales processes inevitably includes embracing these modern communications channels. And the change might be easier than you think.

According to How to Thrive: Best Practices for Accelerated Digital Landscape, 68% of thriving dealers say that it’s been easier than they thought to adapt to a more digital-centered sales process, compared to only 34% of static dealers that felt the same.

Use Data to Discover New Opportunities

As more and more customers shop for and buy cars online, they leave behind data about themselves (and about the industry’s direction) that can help you see new opportunities. As your dealership makes changes to adapt to modern customer preferences, don’t forget to monitor your data.

Watch carefully for trends that can identify new opportunities for earning profit. Have the courage to trust your data enough to pursue those opportunities once they’re found. It can mean the difference between thriving to find additional profit and additional customers, or staying stuck in the past.

The car-buying consumer can be hard to track, but if you have the right tools, processes, and the right information about your customers, you can anticipate their next moves and be ahead of the curve for the next big buying trend. To learn more about surviving and thriving in a new digital landscape, check out our eBook: Thrive and Survive: A Handbook for Dealing with (Almost) Anything.


Learn how to thrive against the competition with the new guide, Thrive and Survive: A Handbook for Dealing with (Almost) Anything.


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