Digital Retailing came onto the auto dealer scene with a healthy bit of skepticism. During more recent times of social distancing, and shop from home, most of the hold outs have entered the game. Some OEMs are even mandating that dealers have a digital retailing tool. Now that we have had some experience with digital retailing, a solid strategy has emerged to help dealers capitalize on the concept.
In order to succeed with digital retailing, you will want to have a tool that does the following:
- Collects contact information up front in the process. Leads are the lifeblood of the car dealership. If you don’t have the ability to reach out to the customer, you have lost a ton. Tools that wait until the end have customers looking at payments and never giving their contact info.
- Receives the credit information from a soft pull. Asking for a social security number and date of birth is like pouring cold water on the process. Tools that do this struggle to produce the required flow of leads.
- Uses real rates, from real banks.
- Uses real incentives.
- Offers finance and lease deals.
- Offers F&I warranty products, if the dealer wants that.
- Offers accessories, if the dealer wants that.
- Uses all of the above to calculate a penny perfect payment. It is not enough for your tool to have a built in desking feature. The payment needs the same information that you use to calculate payments in the showroom.
Once you have the right tool for the job, you will want to do the following:
- Make sure the tool is set up properly: With all of the moving parts, a digital retailing tool is making a very complex calculation. It needs to be set up properly. Seemingly small items like what inventory feed field the tool is pulling from, can make or break the calculation. Are rebates already in the price you are using, and then getting added again?
- Promote the tool:
- This should start with your marketing efforts. Shop from home messaging catches attention at this point.
- Once on the site, visitors should be greeted with calls to action, pages explaining how to use the tool, and videos describing how to work a deal from home.
- Don’t feel that you have to give the vehicle away. So far, the process has been the star of the show. Users see the increased transparency as a win. Eventually, shoppers will get to the point where they comparison shop different sites.For right now, have a good deal, but don’t get crazy. You should always monitor the closing rate to measure your process. If the closing rate isn’t what you want, then lowering the price can help.
- Have a dedicated process for handling the leads.
- These leads are closer to a deal than a standard lead. They should be treated that way. Stage the vehicle, have a showroom process that speeds along final trade appraisals, and the trip to F&I. Have a deal jacket started.
- We do have to recognize that a substantial amount of leads, yes even digital retailing leads, will switch vehicles. At this point, the number we have seen across brands is 74% of the leads buy something else. This can also be an opportunity to switch customers to a different vehicle, with a different deal.
Please feel free to reach out for a more detailed discussion of digital retailing and best practices at your store. We are happy to help answer your questions, whether you are a DEP customer, or not!