Over time, many aspects of the car buying experience has transformed due to recent technology and the growth of the online digital and smart device age. While most car buyers still prefer to take a car for a physical test drive before crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, the journey up to the dealership is quite different than it used to be 10-20 years ago.
One of the most changed pieces of the car buying experience is the customer purchase behavior. A decade ago, car shoppers would typically visit a dealership four to five times not knowing what vehicles were available or if they were getting a good deal before singing any final paperwork. Today, thanks to the use of the internet, technology, and extensive research, car buyers will visit a dealership once and usually make a purchase that same visit.
“When customers arrive at dealerships today, they are so well-informed about the vehicles on the lot due to research that they performed themselves online, they are fully ready to purchase a vehicle. Most customers have already done extensive research on what cars they want, and what dealership has what current inventory.” says Dan Grosvenor with 5 Star Auto Plaza.
Dan is an expert contributor on all things auto and finance on the Doug Haldeman Show every Sunday at 4 p.m. “With the use of smartphones and tablets, comparison shopping is available at the customer’s fingertips. It helps the customer become more aware what is available in the market, and what is a good deal in advance of a dealership visit.”
In order to maximize sales in a digital age where information is readily available, it is critical for dealerships to offer online chat programs with sales staff along with search and comparison functions to analyze different vehicles and brands. The digital age has also changed the way car dealerships advertise, which is actually an advantage for dealerships. For dealerships that are trying to reach the largest possible audience, online digital advertising and social media are either free or very reasonably priced.
Ultimately, car dealerships will realize a much better return on investment with online advertising and marketing. In addition, traditional advertising methods have become less effective over the years. It's expected for the auto industry to spend $4.6 billion on social media advertising by 2015. The quick-moving digital age not only presents a good opportunity for consumers to get the leg up on auto dealers in terms of negotiating vehicle prices, but dealers are also able to tap into new opportunities through creative online marketing strategies to increase customer awareness and sales.