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From Chat to Checkout: Optimizing the Digital Retail Funnel

Written By Carol Marshall

By Carol Marshall, COO, ActivEngage, Inc.

In the ever-evolving automotive landscape, auto dealerships are embracing the potential of online digital retail tools to enhance the car buying journey. Cox Automotive's 2022 Car Buyer Journey Study reveals that an impressive 81% of car shoppers acknowledge the significant impact of online activities in improving their overall buying experience. Moreover, 87% of dealers attest to the positive influence of digital retailing solutions on various aspects of their business.

While dealerships strive to digitize crucial purchase processes like credit applications, trade appraisals, and payments, there's often an oversight when it comes to the vital aspect of the digital retail process: the top of the funnel.

Consider a scenario: You walk into a bustling restaurant, but there's no host or hostess to greet you. Questions about the menu linger, yet there's no one available to answer them. Uncertainty sets in – do you seat yourself or leave?

In the vast online landscape, website visitors can easily feel disoriented and uncertain about where to navigate next. Auto dealerships invest significantly in driving traffic to their websites, but the longer a consumer stays without any interaction, the higher the chances they will leave and explore other options.

To captivate and guide website visitors through the purchasing funnel, initiating a conversation with them is crucial – just as you would greet a customer stepping onto your physical lot.

While phone calls may be preferred, it's essential to recognize that not everyone wants or can engage in phone conversations, especially during work hours or for those browsing discreetly.

This is where a fully managed chat service becomes the ideal solution to lead non-phone-talking opportunities into the top of the funnel of your digital retail process. Additionally, chat and text emerge as preferred methods of initial interaction for many Millennials and members of Generation Z.

Elevate Customer Engagement with Human-Powered Chat Solutions in Automotive Digital Retailing

One of the initial queries that frequently pops up in a chat box from website visitors is, "Are you a bot?" Despite the advancements in chatbot technology, consumers still prefer interacting with real people. Bots, at present, lack the capability to handle complex, multi-part questions or effectively guide car shoppers through the sales funnel or appointment setting.

When choosing a managed chat service, dealerships often face the decision between self-managed or opting for fully managed services provided by trained agents. Self-management necessitates arranging appropriate coverage for car shoppers who prefer weekend and evening browsing, a task that can be challenging for traditional salespeople to handle digitally. Understanding your team's strengths is key in making the right decision.

Live chat agents possess the expertise to assist visitors with vehicle selection and address common inquiries about specials, vehicle features, CarFax reports, warranties, and vehicle delivery. These agents are trained to engage in those crucial early conversations that lay the foundation for building relationships with potential customers.

Maximize Conversions with Digital Retailing Tools and Trusted Live Chat Agents

Once chat agents have addressed consumers' inquiries and established trust, it's time to unveil your dealership's cutting-edge digital retail tools.

Agents can initiate by inquiring about a car shopper's preferred monthly payment, offering assistance with the payment calculator. Similar guidance can be provided for trade-in tools, credit applications, and other steps down the sales funnel.

When consumers are ready to schedule appointments, chat agents excel in facilitating the process. On average, over 20% of sales leads generated through chat also include an appointment, resulting in a higher show rate of 30% when compared to appointments scheduled through other channels.

Interacting with a live agent instills commitment, ensuring consumers follow through on their appointments. Notably, ActivEngage's findings reveal that service appointments scheduled via chat yield $60 more in average RO compared to appointments scheduled solely through online schedulers.

Many digital-oriented customers prefer communicating digitally throughout their purchasing journey. Capturing and engaging top-funnel website visitors is a vital aspect of the digital retail process. Without an initial real-time conversation, numerous opportunities may never initiate the buying process.

With fully managed chat services, expert agents guide website visitors seamlessly into the purchasing funnel. By answering questions, building trust, and introducing digital retail tools, dealerships can seize every opportunity and prevent potential customers from slipping into the hands of competitors.

Embrace the power of digital retailing and live chat expertise to boost conversion, customer satisfaction, and business success.


Ready to discover how ActivEngage helps your dealership succeed?