GM plans to sell 30000 vehicles this year through online program
<p><strong>GM plans to sell 30,000 vehicles this year through online program.</strong> </p>

Consumer Awareness Low, But GM Touts Shop-Click-Drive

Online initiative delivers quality leads, but few of them.&nbsp;&nbsp;

General Motors’ Shop, Click, Drive online shopping tool is multifunctional.

It allows customers to search dealer inventories for new and used vehicles, add accessories, estimate payments, apply for credit and set a delivery date.

It has accounted for thousands of sales since launching in late 2013, but some dealers say the program suffers due to lack of customer awareness.

As of mid-March, 23,000 new vehicles have been sold through the program.

“We set records with just under 2,000 deliveries in January 2015 and over 2,000 in February,” says Jim Bement, manager of the initiative. “Our plan this year is 30,000-plus.”

But of the automaker’s 4,300 U.S. dealers, only 1,900 currently participate in the program.

“A lot of the feedback we receive from dealers is that GM isn’t putting any of their weight behind this, they’re not doing any advertising, so the dealers are saying they’ll get on board once we start to promote it,” Bement says.

Bill Fox Chevrolet in Rochester, MI, participates but only receives a couple leads from the system each month, says Business Development Manager Nicole Hickey.

“We don’t get a ton of leads, because people don’t know about it,” she says. “The leads that do come in close at a high rate. I wish they would advertise it more.”

Will GM heed Hickey’s plea? “It is not in the plan,” Bement says, citing budget limitations.  

Signing up every GM dealer is unrealistic, because there always will be those who don’t want to participate, he says. “Would I like to get to 4,000? Absolutely. Do I think I’ll get there any time soon? No.”  

Still, a sale is a sale and Shop, Click, Drive adds incremental business at little or no cost to the dealership. To participate, dealers must pay a monthly subscription fee of $35 to $45 to their choice of three trade-in value guide providers: Black Book, Kelley Blue Book or the National Automobile Dealers Assn.

When this amount is plugged into the system, it gives customers a realistic estimate of their monthly payments. GM partners with financial services firm RouteOne to provide credit application tools and FICO scores for SCD customers.  

“When we talk to dealers, they tell us that their gross has not been compromised at all using Shop, Click, Drive, and that’s because they control the pricing and gross profit,” Bement says.

“Dealers have told us that their grosses are a little bit better because they can offer a $100 accessory coupon,” he says. “If someone redeems that coupon, GM picks up the $100. And for every $100 redeemed, we typically get a $300 accessory purchase. At the same time, Shop, Click, Drive informs customers about F&I products. It’s all right there online.”

Dealers do not have to record pre-owned sales in the system, just as they do for new vehicles.

Bement estimates used-car sales easily double the total number of vehicles sold through the program.

“The facts are anecdotal, but dealers tell us used-car leads close even better than new-car leads,” he says. “Typically the sales ratio runs 50-50 new to used, but it was probably 55% used to 45% new for the first two months of 2015.”

The actual “sold and delivered” rate is about 30%.

To spur sales through the online portal, GM experimented in March with a pilot program that offers customer incentives of up to $3,000 when they use Shop, Click, Drive to trade in a fullsize pickup.

“Last year we saw 121,000 online trade estimates done through Shop, Click, Drive,” Bement says. “The thing that really stood out was that 49% of those were conquest units. In March, GM offered the hefty incentives to consumers who used S-C-D to trade their Ford F-150, Ram or Toyota Tundra for a Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra. 

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