In this post, we’re taking a broader look at the motoring industry, and tackling one of the bigger questions. As customers flock to private sellers online, do car dealers need to step up their game online? Can they still rely on a brick-and-mortar showroom to attract sales? We spoke to a few dealers who have had the hard task of adapting to a new paradigm. They each told us that their online presence has become an essential part of business. In fact, they all agree they’d struggle to survive without it. It’s simple; car dealers need to bridge that gap into the online world. Why?
To compete with private sellers
It’s no secret that online auctions and private listings have grown to dominate the market. The likes of eBay and AutoTrader are often the first place we look when researching cars. Because they are private sellers, the prices often undercut the traditional dealers. It’s very difficult to compete with this process, where the middle man has been cut out. So, it’s crucial that professional dealers depict themselves as the expert and reliable alternative. An online presence makes sure they stand out in the crowd of private sellers.
To satisfy customer demand
Quite simply, customer expectations and demand are shifting. As buyers, we expect our local dealer to have a next-generation desking solution and a website. We expect to find it quickly with a Google search. We’re looking to browse the range and options before we come down to the showroom. Search engines are the first point of call for nine out of ten car buyers these days. If your local dealership doesn’t pop up, it will probably be ignored. So, we’ve established that an online presence is essential. How do dealers go about creating one?
Search engine optimisation
We explained in the last point how important Google and other search engines are. It’s the first place buyers turn to. That means dealers must ensure their website shows up in relevant searches. Let’s say a Jaguar dealer in New York has a website. They need to guarantee that their website comes up if a customer searches for ‘Jaguar showroom New York’. It’s simply good sense. That dealer will need to optimise their site with those keywords, and build an SEO strategy to match. It will increase revenue, and grow the dealership.
A lot of car buyers now want to complete the entire process online. Meanwhile, almost all of them want to start the research process on the internet. That means the dealer website must be optimised across the board. First of all, they must optimise for research. Make sure all the details, specifications, and images are available for every car. Secondly, they need to boost sales online. Some people don’t even want to visit the shop itself. That’s why many showrooms are investing in car dealer software. It optimises the sites for full conversions and sales. Buyers want to conduct the entire process, or at least most of it, from the comfort of their home.
The simple answer to the question is, yes, dealers do need an online presence. They need a strong, powerful website that informs and sells.