The idea of who’s an automotive internet shopper has changed. It’s become much simpler: “Everyone is an internet shopper today,” says Andy MacLeay.
He is director-digital marketing for Dealer.com, a company that provides new-age marketing and website services to auto dealers. Because of consumers’ online pivot, “whether dealers admit it or not, they are digital dealers” with their websites serving as a second showroom, he says.
Consumers spend an average 61% of their car shopping online. Of that, 21% is spent on the website of the dealer they ultimately purchase a vehicle from, according to Dealer.com data.
That’s why it is considered vital for dealers to maintain content-rich and engaging websites. It spurred Dealer.com to introduce a redesigned platform and new technology that create a more personalized online shopping and buying experience.
“With more of the car-buying process taking place online, customers expect a digital-shopping experience tailored to their specific needs,” says Mike Rother, Dealer.com’s senior vice president and general manager.
Ninety percent of consumers say they prefer a unique car-buying journey that allows them to shop and buy in a personalized way, including information and marketing that’s tied to their tracked consumer preferences and behaviors, according to a study by Cox Automotive, Dealer.com’s owner.
Arguably, the most important parts of a dealership website are vehicle detail pages. Dealer.com has redubbed them “vehicle deal pages.”
They include photos, descriptions, pricing and more information on dealer inventory vehicles of shopper interest. When consumers click on a VDP, they are considered ready-to-buy shoppers.
“You are building deals on those pages, so you need to provide a rich, immersive experience,” MacLeay tells Wards. “That includes visuals and 360° imagery of vehicles. Personalization helps people get to a decision faster. We’re seeing it increase click-through rates two and a half times.”
Much of the redone platform centers on mobile-device use. Upgrades include a mobile-first homepage. “Everything is mobile-focused,” MacLeay says.
Young shoppers in particular use smartphones and such to car shop, according to Cox research. The majority of dealership website traffic (60%) now comes from mobile devices.