Like millions of other Americans, shopping online is a lifesaver in my crazy-busy life.
Amazon has changed the way I do everything, from buying presents, to books, to streaming video, and I LOVE IT. There is a reason Amazon is the powerhouse that it is; they understand where their customer is and know where their customer is going. They meticulously study market and shopping trends, pivot when needed, all without shedding a tear for the days-gone-by.
Just like the automotive industry, but not really.
Sure, our industry has taken steps in the right direction. We’ve done a respectable job at tracking shopping, analyzing the path to purchase, and understanding where the consumer is gaining the majority of their information. We’ve even been able to attract the alien scientists at Google to help us with the research.
Where we have a serious problem is with the pivot. We’re happy to use the technology, but we get all misty eyed and nostalgic about the days of yore. Let’s be honest. The selling strategy has not changed since the 80’s.
I’ll admit the 80’s were awesome. There were great movies, great mullets…great movies about mullets…but, who in their right mind would want to have to go back to the prehistoric research and purchasing process from then? How is Sears doing with its catalog business?
Today’s buyers are online, like it or not. They’re using their smartphones to do research about cars and pricing (even when they are on your lot,) utilizing technology to be as savvy as possible throughout the entire experience. The college class of 2016 has barely lived a day of their lives without the Internet. How does anyone expect them, or anyone who comes after them, to stop using a buying channel that they’re used to?
That’s why it’s time to take this one step further and offer customers a purchasing path they desire.
The Buy It Now Button
Take a deep breath.
I know this is giving some of you palpitations, but it’s once again that time to rethink the way we approach our customers. And, let’s just get this out of the way: not everyone will want to utilize a Buy It Now button. But, by not incorporating it into your process, you are disenfranchising a segment of your population who would click this and purchase almost 100% online.
Why would anyone put up a barrier to selling a car?
If someone is saying they are ready to purchase, why put more obstacles in the way?
We need to stop taking an “all or nothing” approach to our customers. We have the ability and the resources to create a boutique experience for them on our website, so take advantage of that and increase customer retention while we are at it. Buying channels are different for each customer, and it’s time we meet them where they are, making the experience as simple as possible for them. Simply put, let’s focus on the customer, and
not on what is easy or the dealership.
Who Will Use It?
Let’s make a list. You might have a few of these people…
You already have the majority of the customer information from the prior sales. They already know the dealership, they chose to business with you again, they don’t need a tour of the service department, and they already know you support a Rocket Football team. Why not allow them the convenience of a shop, click, buy experience? Even if there is still information needed towards the completion of the sale, you can save a monumental amount of the returning customer time. And, as surveys repeatedly tell us, time is a valuable thing to customers (AND dealerships).
Customers with no trade-in
If a customer is interested in an outright sale with no trade-in, this is an optimal choice. If a customer knows exactly what they want and is ready to purchase, why wouldn’t you give them every opportunity to purchase?
Customers who are paying with cash money
Yes, these people still exist. Give them a way to submit an OFAC check online, present them a clickable F&I menu, and take their money; more time available to better serve the “traditional customer.”
Change and progress can be uncomfortable. But, uncomfortable is a great place to be. It’s where you grow and push forward. Discomfort is a prime motivator to bring about change. Stop thinking in terms of every customer, and start thinking about certain customers. If Plan A doesn’t work, you can always fall back on Plan B.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career, from venture capital to selling cars, to creating technology – if you don’t do it… SOMEONE ELSE WILL.
Are you ready to do it?
If you have a Buy It Now button, what has been your experience so far?
There are 2 very hot discussions happening right now in the DealerRefresh forums on the topic of “Buy It Now”. I encourage you to read and participate in both…