More than ever, dealerships must get onboard with e-commerce or risk losing massive amounts of business to competitors.
The good news is, it’s not that hard. It involves making sure the dealership website doesn’t get in the way of your customer’s intent to shop online.
Here are the three most common mistakes dealerships make with respect to selling cars on their websites.
Too Little Traffic
A website is like a showroom: If it’s empty, it can’t convert shoppers into buyers. Further, it’s cheaper to drive thousands of visitors to a website than to a showroom.
Big dealerships see up to a million unique website visitors a month. What’s a good target number? Definitely more than a couple thousand a day. But it depends on a number of variables unique to each dealership’s competitive environment.
How to figure it out? Run a quick online marketing test. It’s quick, cheap and well worth it.
Begin by increasing online advertising spending by a small percentage in equal amounts across two different digital distribution channels in order to test which works best.
For example: Facebook and Google. Measure the results after a month. Which channel drove the most traffic? Which source of leads converted the most and which conversions had the highest PVR?
When the results are in, double the spend on the top-performing channel and scale back on the low-performing one. If, by the end of the second month, you’ve improved your conversions by at least two times more than the first month, you know that your efforts are helping and that you weren’t driving enough car shoppers in your area (pun intended) to your website.
If the extra spend did not yield a proportional increase in conversions, you already may have captured the highest-possible website traffic within budgetary and geographical constraints. If so, look at other things that can be done to improve e-commerce performance, such as including a well-functioning conversion tool and doing a sleek website redesign.
Flawed Website Design
Most small and midsized dealerships use a website template. They all have decent fundamental designs. The other nice thing about these templates is that they are compatible with all best-in-class e-commerce products, like chat, online checkout and trade-in calculators.
But that flexibility is a double-edged sword, because a perfectly good website can be ruined by unnecessary clutter, contradictory calls-to-action and non-competitive pricing.
The most common design flaw we see is using a legacy lead-collection tool. E-commerce is relatively new. Some good tools have been launched in the past two years. But many dealerships are still using legacy digital retailing tools that feel clunky and are not optimized for mobile.
Pull out your phone and fill out a lead-collection form on your website. If it doesn’t feel like Apple or Amazon, you’re likely missing out on an additional 50% of leads.
Don’t stop at leads. Let customers feel like they have completed their entire deal and fully desked themselves. This means providing the ability to not only shop and design payments, but also upsell themselves on F&I products, add a trade-in with ease, choose pickup or delivery and more.
In choosing an e-commerce experience, do not pick one that feels like it sends customers out of your website or changes the context in any way.
Visitors want to feel like they are buying from you and in control. Never send them to a new page that feels like a different website nor to third-party landing pages. Instead, choose an e-commerce solution that feels integrated within your own website, where your visitors actually want to be.
Slow BDC Response Time
Once there’s an efficient website and healthy traffic, make sure the business development center (BDC) is ready to convert all those customer orders to sales. Otherwise, it leaves value on the table and disappoints customers who were more excited by the e-commerce conveniences.
The difference between a fast and slow BDC can mean the difference between a 50% or 10% conversion rate. The BDC must be staffed by competent salespeople who follow up with customers as soon as possible and follow up with them in a way that’s relevant.
Keep in mind a complete online order requires different follow-up than people who come in as a curious trade-in lead. Assuming there’s a properly working online checkout tool, a phone call within five minutes after an order is placed (or first thing the next day if the order comes in at night) is a best practice.
The content of the call should be congratulatory and supportive – not sales-focused. The callers say the order has been received, the order is being confirmed, they will follow up if any additional information is required and ask if there are any questions.
The BDC callers have the information pulled up when they contact customers and do not make them provide information they already provided in the e-commerce tool.
The BDC staff doesn’t try to sell additional products during the initial confirmation call. There’s a chance to do that when customers go to the dealership or the car is delivered to them.
By addressing these three basic tactics, a dealership will set itself up for automatic, scalable success with e-commerce. If you don’t do it, the dealership up the street probably will.
Aaron Krane is the CEO and founder of Drive Motors, which offers dealerships e-commerce solutions and online buying tools.