The internet has shaped the modern day to be what it is. The internet has provided us with convenience, efficiency, and a wealth of knowledge, but how has that changed how the customer goes about shopping for and purchasing a vehicle?
Knowledge is Power
According to CarGuru, on average 75% of customer who comes into your dealership to buy a car have already done research online: searching reviews of your dealership, looking at your inventory, and cross-referencing that information with other dealerships in the area. Customers are more knowledgeable than ever before and more distrusting of salespeople. They realize that the tactics that have worked on customers in the past are just that, sales tactics that don’t have the customer in mind and just aim to make as much money as possible.
What Are They Looking For?
Did you know only 7% of millennials, who are a significant portion of automotive customers today, identify themselves as brand loyal according to Forbes? Customers just want vehicles that meet their needs regardless of brand. Because of that lack of brand loyalty, they want to be consulted and helped through that process to find the best fit for them.
COVID-19 and Digital Retail
The rise of COVID-19 made the internet that much more vital, connecting us remotely through social media, Zoom, and a general need to distract ourselves from the chaos around us. This has also changed how open customers are to new ways of buying vehicles through the internet. A study by CarGuru shows that before the pandemic 32% of surveyed customers were open to buying vehicles online. After the pandemic that number nearly doubled to 60% of surveyed customers being open to buying online.
Does This Mean In-Person Dealerships Are Becoming Obsolete?
Contrary to the popular worry that online retail is taking over, in-person dealerships are still the majority preference. Even with that impressive jump in interest in online shopping, that very same study by CarGuru still estimated that 71%-89% of car buys across all demographics are still purchasing from in-person dealerships.
But, if dealerships want to stay relevant for the foreseeable future, we predict that they will need to put more effort into developing their sales pros. Automotive News reports that next to price, quality of service is the most important factor when making a decision on a purchase in today’s market. They are more than willing to pay more for a great, personable car buying experience than they would for digital retailers.