We’re living in the age of disruption – and that is increasingly true in the automotive industry.
Technology is empowering customers to dictate more of their purchasing experience and, as in other industries, automotive consumers expect to get what they want, when they want it and how they want it delivered.
As these trends continue to progress, car dealers must start making changes to their business or risk getting left behind. UPS recently released the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study to evaluate consumer shopping habits from pre-purchase to post-delivery. The study, based on a comScore survey of more than 5,000 U.S. online shoppers, was analyzed for insights from online shoppers who specially purchased automotive parts/accessories.
According to the study, 12% of online shoppers reported that they purchased automotive parts/accessories in the past three months – and that number is growing.
It’s worth noting that online shopping isn’t just for Millennials anymore. In fact, the survey found a high proportion of males, rural shoppers and non-Millennials (those over 35 years of age) purchasing automotive parts/accessories online.
For many dealerships, adapting to meet the demands of this evolved consumer base can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for those who are navigating these industry-wide changes:
Play the Part
According to the UPS study, one-third of the parts purchased online are being installed by someone other than the end consumer. This means there is opportunity for dealerships to capture a share of these parts installations.
Selling cars may pay the bills, but servicing them adds to the bottom line. Too often, dealerships focus on what’s sold on their grounds, but savvy dealerships should be looking to capture a share of these parts installations.
Update That Website
With shoppers increasingly going online, car dealers need to invest more in web presence and search-engine optimization. Simply, if a shopper needs a certain car part, a quick Internet search needs to lead to your dealership.
Additionally, if a dealership’s website isn’t optimized for use on smartphones and tablets, buyers probably are getting a better experience from your competitors.
Give the People What They Want
With quicker turnaround times, brick-and-mortar stores have evolved into mini-fulfillment centers, driving the omni-channel business strategy that has become a requirement rather than a choice.
Inventory transparency is especially critical when distributing across multiple channels. To a customer, there’s nothing worse than showing something is “in stock” in the online portal, only to drive to a store to find out the inventory reflected online is not consistent with what’s on the shelf.
Furthermore, almost six-in-10 online automotive parts/accessory purchasers have used ship-to-store in the past year, and 31% plan to use it more often in the next year, the survey found. Dealerships should respond to this trend by making omni-channel shopping seamless for their customers.
Set Yourself Apart
While we are on the topic of inventory, it’s worth noting that more than half of online automotive parts/accessory purchasers will go to a competitor’s website or app for the same/similar product when a product is out of stock or backordered. This underscores the need for dealers to keep accurate inventory levels, both online and in-store.
It’s also important to consider that car dealers aren’t immune to price comparisons. The clear majority of shoppers compare prices before making automotive parts/accessory purchases. Competitive pricing, both online and in-store, is sure to help your dealership win and retain customers.
Darryl Barber is marketing manager for UPS’s automotive segment.