In the past few months, car dealerships — like many other businesses — have experienced a major shift as they navigate the loss of in-person sales and decreased sales overall. This has challenged dealerships to adopt new strategies and tools to keep buyers engaged.
In the process, both buyers and sellers are finding that electronic resources can be used to facilitate the necessary conversations to close a deal, without spending a day at the car dealership.
The In-person Experience of Buying of Car
Dealerships have been hesitant to embrace online car sales due to the importance of in-person interaction throughout the buying process. There is a lot of weight put into the experience of purchasing a new vehicle.
You can’t replace the feeling of test driving a new car — determining whether you feel comfortable, seeing how the vehicle responds to your actions and taking note of the environment.
Car salesmen often sell customers on a story, visualizing their potential future with the vehicle, rather than just the vehicle itself. They can tailor a sale by responding dynamically and highlighting different features. Browsing for cars online, it can be hard to envision how much you might like a certain make or model through descriptions, pictures and videos.
Additionally, going to a showroom gives you access to a sales representative who can answer all of your questions and explain your financing and payment options.
ECommerce and Online Vehicle Sales
While it may be difficult to replicate a test drive, eCommerce is often touted for its ability to hyper-personalize online shopping. There are many tools and resources available to help dealerships continue, or start, their conversations online.
Car salesmen are currently interacting with customers through phone calls, messaging and even zoom conversations, using the technology at their disposal to keep up effective communication.
The process of purchasing a vehicle can be long and grueling. Having more control over their environment and the timing of conversations can remove pressure from buyers and make it a more enjoyable experience overall.
How Dealerships are Adjusting to Online Car Sales
Currently, some dealerships are offering free deliveries for cars purchased online. Others are bridging the online and offline experience, offering to bring the test drive to customers. Sales representatives will drop off and pick up cars, with procedures in place for proper sanitation.
General Motors sums up the simplicity of their online shopping experience in three words: “Shop. Click. Drive.” Shop Online guides shoppers through the steps of picking out their vehicle, selecting their financing or leasing options and scheduling the delivery right to their driveway.
Car repair shops are also getting in on the technology action, using online scheduling tools or text communication to coordinate contactless pickup and delivery for car maintenance. Whether online or offline, customer convenience has become a top priority in commerce in the past few years.
Custom Software for Car Dealerships
Car dealerships have long relied on software to compare pricing, manage inventory and look up financing options for those in the market for new or pre-owned vehicles. Now, adding features to facilitate online sales will help them ramp up the eCommerce side of their business.
An online portal or website for vehicle purchases should be intuitive, well-designed and easy for customers to navigate. Effective software will support the electronic signing of paperwork, provide a secure online payment portal and offer sales reps the communication tools they need.
When back at the dealership, tablets can be utilized on the showroom floor to make purchasing a vehicle a smooth, paperless process. They can also provide your sales reps with vehicle information at the touch of a button.
Among other features, your software solution should enable analytics and data visualization for reporting. Analyzing sales data reveals purchasing trends and can inform stocking decisions.
Notably, today’s stocking decisions are a bit atypical. With many car manufacturing plants closed, dealerships have had to make due with the vehicle inventory that they currently have. As cities and manufacturers begin to open back up, there is even concern that car dealerships won’t be able to sustain the revived consumer demand.
Until production ramps up, they will have to make do with the vehicles left on their lot. Even as manufacturers restart production and dealerships reopen, online auto sales are likely to remain a viable option that continues to gain traction.
Developing a Software Solution for Your Dealership
If you are interested in developing a software solution for your dealership, the team at 7T is ready to help. 7T has experience developing custom software and mobile apps for businesses, specializing in CRM and ERP platforms.
Our team also offers software consulting services, cloud integration services and tools for data governance and data lake creation, guiding businesses through digital transformation. Our software solutions are custom-made to meet the needs and challenges of your business, providing a powerful ROI that will help you scale.
To discover how a custom software solution can benefit your business, reach out to 7T today.