Before the digital age changed the way we shop, buying a car was a long process of more than five dealer visits and a lot of questions, answered mostly by the dealership.
Now, customers are so well informed they need only one dealer visit before they make a purchase- they’re coming in to dealers far less frequently and far later in the buying process.
“Just Google it”
The majority of the buying process is now online, with customers flicking through specs and colours in the comfort of their own home, customising their purchase down to every last detail. Rather than the dealer advising the customer, the customer now tells the dealer about the car they’re going to buy. The customer will know everything about their purchase before the dealer does and dealers need to keep evolving with this shift in purchase behaviour. This is going to mean dealers need to increasingly approach customers where they are making their decision; online.
The age of social media users is ever increasing and subsequently so is the age of social media users who want to buy a car. Now, 84% of automobile buyers are on Facebook- that is a 100% increase from 2014 (CMO). The myth that millennials aren’t buying cars has been busted and the younger generation of buyers are even willing to pay more for advanced tech features.
Whatever age, discussions are constantly happening and social media and online reviews play a key part in the modern customer’s decision process. These discussions cover everything from make and model to manufacturer and even dealers, with 69% of consumers saying dealer reviews had an impact on where they went (DigitalAirStrike).
Dealers need to be keeping a tab of these conversations and even engage in them to keep up with savvy customers and their buying journey.
It’s not all bad for dealers as, despite the above, 69% of customers ask their dealer for advice and are prepared to deviate from their online research in the final stages of their buying journey (CarKeys). This is huge for dealers as customers spend weeks researching online before coming into the shop.
The buying process is now far more social. The increase in age of social media users means that more buyers are online and engaged in discussion. This means dealers should be too, replying and addressing issues and questions in real time.
Customers know more about the car they want to buy than the dealer. Dealers need to mature and adapt to this and become more involved in the digital process to capitalise on this newly defined customer journey.
The future of the automotive buying process is completely online and dealers should ensure they don’t get left behind. In a study by Birchwood Credit Solutions, 75% of people asked said they would consider making the online journey 100% online. Highlighting the high-tech is a way to win in the 2018 automotive market.