We, along with practically every other marketer and marketing outfit in the auto sales industry—and the ones outside it, too—have been telling you for years that online sales are here and they’re growing fast. Of course, unlike everyone else we also provide something you can actually do about your dealership’s online sales portal, but we’re not here to toot our own horn.
We’re here to make sure you know where to find the best opportunities for attracting today’s car buyers, and how to pursue those opportunities to your best advantage. We’ve provided plenty of research and statistics supporting more extensive and updated online marketing efforts, and we aren’t backpedaling on that in the slightest. But when new research comes to light suggesting that even online car buyers are looking for a great in-person dealership experience, well, that’s something we feel we ought to tell you.
So here it is.
According to a research conducted by Foresight Research, a survey of more than 7,500 new car buyers in 2015 revealed some surprsiing statistics about the importance of online sales and marketing for modern dealerships. Only one in four respondents said they would be happy with either an online or an in-person buyer experience, while nearly 60% said that they would want to physically visit a showroom, getting in and out of multiple vehicles and talking to a salesperson face-to-face during the buying process.
The majority of car buyers, it seems, aren’t ready for a digital-only car buying experience, so dealerships need to be ready to attract online but convert in person.
As Millennials continue to grow as a proportion of car buyers, though, dealerships may need to shift their strategy more heavily towards Internet-based sales. They already leapt from 10% to 20% of the car purchasers in one year, according to this research, and 20% of Millennial buyers say they would prefer an online showroom to a physical one—and 26% said they’d rather handle negotiations online than in person.
That means over a quarter of younger car buyers actually want to close the deal online, and a fifth don’t even want to set foot in your dealership. That’s still three quarters and four fifths who are going to be showing up looking for that personal touch, but if current trends continue (and there’s no reason to think they won’t), that could be a situation of the past very soon.
According to Sean V. Bradley, president of Dealer Synergy, many dealerships simply aren’t ready for the ongoing Internet revolution.
“Treat the Internet department or the (business development center) as your number one profit center, not as a second-rate citizen,” he recommends, noting that most dealerships he consults with unfortunately take the latter course. “Second, the Internet director should be a strong sales manager, not the IT nerd, not the parts manager’s daughter. If you want your Internet department to sell 100 or 200 units a month, you need a strong sales-manager-caliber person.”
Sales prowess before tech knowledge. We couldn’t agree more—especially when it’s so easy to hire teams that can handle the tech for you, at substantially less than the in-house cost. Video, for instance. We can hook you up with everything you need, mobile-friendly and without any coding fuss, for less than you might believe. Contact us today for a full demo.