Online shopping has spoiled us.
Okay, that sounds a little harsh. But is it untrue?
The convenience of online shopping has changed the way we interact with businesses and our expectations of how transaction processes are completed. Understandably, the automotive industry has been a little slower going in incorporating a true online shopping experience into the mix. It is, after all, a much more complex purchase. Not to mention it is traditionally a very emotional purchase. But in the past 5 years, that has changed.
Enter: Automotive digital retailing.
Several automotive industry leaders — such as Cox Automotive, Darwin, and Roadster — have recognized the value and utility of an automotive digital retailing tool and are full speed ahead on offering dealerships a streamlined, digital avenue to provide their car-buying customers. The future is now!
These digital tools are further enhanced with human guidance; something that can admittedly get lost in the mix in the era of digital commerce. Other online shopping avenues are much more often used and consumers have become well-versed in how to accomplish what they need. This is not true of automotive channels, where the average length of time drivers keep a new vehicle is 71.4 months — around 6 years (source: Autotrader).
Automotive Digital Retailing Still Needs a Personal Touch
While tons of people drive, the realm of automobiles is still a world of “unknowns” for the average shopper. Think about how many people own a computer but don’t know how it works. Think about someone walking into a hardware store with no contractor experience. These customers all inherently want and seek out human guidance in avenues they are not experienced in.
With that in mind, dealership teams are educators just as much as they are salespeople or service techs.
And those who represent dealerships similarly must be present and trusted as guides, advocates, and friends to help nurture the sale and keep customer comfort at a maximum. With an expensive, emotional purchase like a new or pre-owned car, customers need to know they are making the right choice and feel assured about each step in the process.
3 Common Customer Needs in Automotive Digital Retailing
As an automotive live chat platform (or live managed messaging, as we like to call it — since it’s much more than simply chat!) that has deep integrations with multiple automotive digital retailing tools (Cox, Darwin, Roadster, and more) we field and evaluate thousands of conversations within them.
What we see are a few common threads as we watch a car shopper, in real-time, make their way through their personal customer journey through the sales funnel:
- Basic Information/Questions
This is expected, but we felt it was noteworthy to include: sometimes, car shoppers don’t realize they are in a digital retailing tool! So, they often ask the typical live chat questions we field (vehicle availability, finance options, test drive requests).
Interestingly, we often see the customer utilizing the tool as a payment calculator to get a rough idea of what they’re in for. As their intent becomes more serious, they’ll start to ask more involved questions related to the vehicle and the next steps in the process.
- Credit Application Approval
Maybe they just completed it 5 minutes ago. Maybe it has been a day or two. Regardless, customers can grow impatient. Not to mention, many customers can have credit anxiety.
An extra human touch in your digital space can buy time for you, as well as let your team know you have a ready and anxious buyer on the line. Additionally, your customer can be comforted and reassured that your team is looking into all approval possibilities so that they remain as low-stress as possible throughout the process.
- Special Situations/Errors
Some customers stumble into the automotive digital retailing tool looking for specific assistance related to their current car buying process. Some of the common ones we see are related to getting a pre-approval letter and what to do next, looking for the current specials, or even asking about vehicle ordering or delivery options.
Unfortunately, errors can also occur with the automotive digital retailing tool. This doesn’t even have to be on the program side — faulty internet connections and heavy bandwidth on the customer’s side can stress the tool into an issue. When this happens, a live human advocate can be there to save a frustrated customer from backing out and instead move on with the process.
Recharge your Automotive Digital Retailing with ActivEngage
In recent years, the automotive industry has gradually warmed to the idea of offering digital avenues for purchasing vehicles. And with certain world events, that transition has certainly been expedited. ActivEngage has been digital retailing friendly since its inception in 2007, and we continue to be the only fully human automotive sales chat platform — a testament to our many digital retailing integrations.
Recharge your automotive digital retailing with ActivEngage! In addition to the deepest integrations with various tools, we also offer a varied suite of customer engagement solutions:
- Concierge Service Scheduling, for easy, people-guided service appointments.
- DataWise Analytics, to enhance your leads with incredible customer insight.
- AcceleRater, to manage your company’s reputation (or we can do it for you!)here! The text element is intended for longform copy that could potentially include multiple paragraphs.