Something is better than nothing when it comes to digital retailing


Dealers often take an “all or nothing” stance when it comes to digital retailing. For those dealers that fall in the later category, they justify it by pointing to studies showing that maybe 5% to 10% of consumers might be ready to purchase their next car completely online.

On the surface, it does seem a bit risky to invest in an end-to-end digital retailing experience when the vast majority of current buyers wouldn’t use it. That said, shelving the whole notion of digital retailing until the time comes when dealers are fully convinced most customers would actually “buy it now” from their website is shortsighted.

Today, you are selling the online customer experience as much as you are the car. Not offering shoppers any more transparency about the economic factors of the car deal online undermines your ability to help the growing number of consumers who are receptive right now to completing more of the transaction online.

Car buyers want the ease and convenience of completing more – whether it’s getting approved for financing or a price for their trade-in – prior to visiting your storefront.

The fact is the majority of today’s shoppers do want (and expect?) more convenience and transparency, and a greater sense of control as they look to purchase their next car. They don’t want to spend hours in a dealership to complete the purchase transaction.

By offering shoppers the option of working through more of the elements of buying a car that they perceive as potentially problematic and time-consuming beforehand will reduce in-store transaction times and help bridge the trust gap that still exists in our industry.

I think the take-away for dealers is that digital retailing shouldn’t be viewed as an “all or nothing” proposition. Rather, it should be viewed as more of a “have it your way” approach, where dealers provide more digital retailing tools, and customers have the option to use as much, or as little, of them as they prefer.

It’s easy to understand why some dealers continue to embrace an “all or nothing” strategy when it comes to digital retailing. But given the growing importance of the online customer experience as it relates to lead conversion, dealers need to think about the monthly sales they’re probably missing by waiting on the sideline for a complete, “buy it now” solution that most buyers will use.


Bill Gerhard
Author: Bill Gerhard

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