[WEBINAR] Humanizing Digital Retailing, with Kevin Frye

Written By Carol Marshall

Did you miss the meeting of the minds last month? Automotive experts, Kevin Frye and Carol Marshall shared the virtual stage in The Missing Link: How to Humanize Digital Retailing webinar. If you weren’t able to make it, don’t fret! We’re breaking down the highlights right here.

The Drawbacks of Digital Retailing

As Carol and Kevin dove into his history with digital retailing — Jeff Wyler Automotive Family has offered online car buying to consumers for years — they discussed some of the issues with many solutions today. Below, we break them down for you:

Low consumer adoption

Unlike Amazon or our favorite retailer’s eCommerce site, car dealership websites have always been used for research and shopping — not actual purchasing. There’s undoubtedly a learning curve. Coupled with consumers’ generally negative perceptions of car buying, unfamiliar technology causes major friction.

Rigid buying journey

Most tools offer a linear buying trajectory that doesn’t follow a buyer’s unique thoughts or needs. Many don’t follow the dealer’s needs either, with many credit applications following F&I product selection — causing nearly 85% of deals to be reworked by the dealership in-store.

No real-time assistance

Last, but not least, is the fact that consumers have to face the previous challenges alone. Not only are the processes are overly complicated, but buyers also have little to no guidance from a salesperson. Frustration and churn are inevitable.

So what do Carol and Kevin recommend? Put the customer at the center of your solution by creating a frictionless experience.

Make sure your retailing tools are accessible when and where shoppers need them; incorporate them in places they already trust like live chat or on a VDP.

Allow your shoppers to begin or end the purchase process wherever they or you choose.

Look for tools that use humans to guide shoppers through complex processes to provide reassurance and build trust.

Online Car Buying in 2020: Bots and Banter

One of the most interesting phenomena of online car buying this year has been what Carol Marshall called the rise of “chit-chat” and niceties. At ActivEngage, our Customer Engagement Experts (CEEs) are no strangers to relational conversations — our average chat duration is 9 minutes because we focus on earning contact information, not just hounding customers for it.

Since March 2020, we’ve experienced a serious chat volume increase with record-breaking months in April and May. We’ve seen a surge in mobile usage and texting with dealerships as well. Consumers still want and need to buy cars, but the way they do their research and engage in chat has changed. Questions like ‘how are you doing?’ and ‘what safety precautions are your store taking during the pandemic?’ 

Unfortunately, many retailing tools offer either no support or chatbot assistance. Carol and Kevin discussed the impact these bots have had on consumer satisfaction and the overall retailing process. Many bots on the market still can’t answer simple questions like ‘how are you’. Not a good look for the dealership during uncertain times.

Online Car Buying in 2020: A Jeff Wyler Study

"When that narrow window of opportunity opens — in this case, that they chat (have a question), you've got to be ready to not only answer immediately but give them the answer they're looking for as quickly as possible."

Kevin Frye, Jeff Wyler Automotive Family

Kevin Frye shared a fascinating study Jeff Wyler conducted to gauge their customers’ interest in digital retailing. The objective of the study was to better understand their customers’ needs and sentiment. We focus on being consumer-facing, which means we must understand what the consumer wants.

Over 90% of their shoppers want a digital retailing tool on our website where they can complete some or most of the car buying process online. Kevin also found that, at the time, 90% of their shoppers would NOT buy a car 100% online — they still wanted to test drive the car before the final purchase.

Impact on the In-Store Process

"Yes, we had record home deliveries in all 3 states, but I want everyone to understand this: the majority of sales were completed at the dealership because people wanted to touch and test drive the car."

Kevin Frye, Jeff Wyler Automotive Family

Just call Carol the Queen of Good Questions, because she asked 2 very important things:

1) What in-store adjustments might some dealers need to make?

At Jeff Wyler, they are working on overcoming two major challenges. First, home deliveries are still labor-intensive, despite all the marketing around digital retailing's efficiency. Second, they are working on a better process to identify which in-store customers started buying a vehicle online as well as how far along the process they are.

2) How was the gross impacted for Jeff Wyler's digital retailing buyers?

I hope you're sitting down for this because this stat is about to dispel the notion that if consumers get more control over the deal, there is going to be no gross for dealerships.

"When we compare digital retailing tool deals to the non-digital retailing deals, we're seeing a 10-20% higher gross per unit. In the experience, the consumer has the ability to change the selling price. We have found that less than 10% of these people change the selling price."

Kevin Frye, Jeff Wyler Automotive Family

There were so many more fascinating insights in this presentation, so we highly recommend you check it out for yourself. To watch this digital retailing webinar on-demand, please visit the Digital Dealer Website.

Looking for more digital retailing resources?

For more information on ways to bring a more human experience to online car buying, check out this digital retailing webinar: Getting Personal During Social Distancing with DealerSocket.


Ready to discover how ActivEngage helps your dealership succeed?