Do you “click” to buy things online? Or do you physically go to a “brick”-and-mortar store to do your shopping?
There’s no denying that e-commerce has been gaining momentum over the years, and in some areas, it’s completely eclipsed traditional storefront sales. GameStop is one of the largest video gaming retailers in the industry, and they’ve had to deal with the rise of digital technology in a unique way (think online gaming). But instead of putting up a white flag and shuttering their stores, GameStop did a full-court press and figured out how to loop their physical storefronts in on the digital revenue they were seeing. Essentially, they started selling access to online gaming in their stores.
That’s because the “Click or brick?” question is a little too simplistic for most retailers, automotive dealers included.
You Don’t Have to Choose
Not everyone is quite ready to buy cars online exclusively yet, and that’s okay. To be honest, it’d be a little strange to buy such a big-ticket item without at least looking at it in person. But, it’s been done before by online retail giant, Amazon. What most retailers don’t realize, though, is that digital technology doesn’t necessarily compete with in-store shopping. That is, just because Bed, Bath & Beyond sells candles online doesn’t mean people won’t still go to the store to sniff out the best one.
And car dealers ought to know this better than anyone. Digital technology probably isn’t stealing any business from your dealership’s lot (phew) in the same way it keeps people from going to the mall, because most everyone wants to at least drive their car before they buy it. At the same time, a recent survey from DealerSocket showed that 33% of people said they’d prefer an online-only car buying experience. However, those people tended to be in higher income brackets. Since most median-income customers are looking for decent prices and a dealership they can trust, it’s time to look at how the digital world can help here.
Because there’s no question that the new Internet age does influence the buyer’s journey. In fact, digital technology and smart devices have taken what used to be a linear, predictable buyer’s journey and broken it into tiny, tiny little “micro-moments” that are driven by your customers’ needs and desires. They have the means available to them, so they can answer their questions and research whatever and whenever they wish.
So your customers will always come to the lot to test drive that new Honda Civic, but they can research the specs & mileage on their phone. That’s what Google is for, and that’s why it’s more important than ever to have a strong presence online.
How do you apply what you’ve learned? Well, look at GameStop again. They took something potentially devastating to their storefronts and found a way to boost digital sales in their brick-and-mortar stores. So, it’s wasn’t really “click or brick” with GameStop, it was more like “click and brick.” Make the digital version of your dealership work towards pushing customers to your physical location.
That means focusing on things like website optimization (including mobile), Google AdWords campaigns, boosting your SEO signals, and even looking at metrics like page views, click-through-rates, and unique site visitors.
Your dealership isn’t going fully digital, at least not yet, and most of your customers still want come visit you. Only trouble is, your dealership needs to be able to reach your customers on their terms, using their smart devices and computers. How do we know all this? Well, we are wizards at digital advertising & marketing, after all.
We are curious, though, has anyone actually sold a car online yet, from start to finish? Let us know in the comments!