Last month, FlexDealer held our first official Office Hours! What exactly is ‘Office Hours,’ you ask? It’s simply a time when our team takes an hour out of the workday to make ourselves available for our clients - no appointment required! We generate a topic for each session that we believe will be of value to our clients, and invite an expert on the topic to join the conversation.
Our guest speakers, clients, and Flex team members are welcome to listen, ask questions, discuss and share - whatever feels right. Our goal is to not talk at you, but to invite you to the table. We take care of guiding and moderating the conversation, so that our clients can get as much out of the call as possible.
For our first Office Hours call, we welcomed Michelle Denogean, CMO at Roadster, to discuss digital retail and online car-buying. As the Chief Marketing Officer of North America’s leading digital commerce platform for car buying, Michelle has valuable insights into the automotive industry’s recent shift to online retail. Michelle kicked things off by sharing an important car-buying statistic: In the past 6 months, 10% of consumers bought their vehicle fully online. This is vitally important information, particularly for an industry that has traditionally been rooted in the in-person sales experience.
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So how can dealers learn to effectively engage with their customers online and streamline the digital retail experience? Let’s take a look at our top 5 takeaways!!
1. You don’t necessarily need to change your entire process. You’ve been doing things right for a long time! Don’t start from scratch. Instead, consider how new online tools can fit into your vision, what you already do well, and what you’re trying to accomplish.
2. A hybrid model between online and in-person car buying is emerging. Many customers want to start the car-buying process online using tools like gamified payment calculators and vehicle-building activities, and then finish the experience at your dealership. Consider what a new process might look like, and how you can make the final stages at your dealership quick and painless for your customers after they’ve done most of the work online. Michelle’s biggest tip: “Don’t make them do the work twice!”
3. Shop your own process. There is an opportunity for your dealership to leverage the online retail process by finding pain points in the customer journey. What were your blockers? What went wrong? What do you wish had been different? Once you identify these blockers, you can more easily eliminate them for your customers and improve the online car-buying process.
4. There is no rush to implement digital retailing into your business model. Some dealers (with the best of intentions) rushed to add a “buy online” button to their websites last year. But when you go ahead with something that you’re not prepared for, the customer experience can suffer. Your desire to keep up with change can actually end up being more damaging to your business than if you hadn’t added that “buy online” button in the first place. Michelle suggests that “when you implement digital retailing, take a moment to pause. Make sure you’re able to work through the process effectively before announcing your brand-new online shopping experience. Your staff and customers will thank you.”
5. Meet customer expectations. Many of your customers want to engage online. They want figures, information on the vehicle, and payment options available at their fingertips. Meeting these expectations creates an enriching online experience for the user, and helps bring them into your dealership to follow through with the sale. Put the potential buyer in the driver’s seat before they even come in for a test drive. Give them tools that will create an empowering online experience where they feel engaged and in control throughout the process. They’ll walk through your door ready to buy.
Our team fully enjoyed Flex’s first Office Hours call, and we’re already excited about our next session. Already a client and have an idea for next month’s topic? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line! We want to hear about what’s important to you and your business, and create an engaging and enriching Office Hours experience for our clients.