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Auto Shopping Trends—Who Is Your Modern Consumer?

 Things have changed over the past several years when it comes to the auto shopping experience, but exactly how much change are we talking about? What does the car-shopping experience really look like to today’s busy consumer?

We’ve all been there. You need something, and you need it now. Maybe it’s a new computer because yours just uploaded its last virus-laden “You’ve Won a Free Cruise” email. There’s a quick and simple fix. Just hop on your mobile device or your backup computer and order a new one, with express delivery.

Fridge on the blink? No problem. Digitally coordinate an appointment with the service department. Need dinner for the family? Easy. Text your order to the local pizza shop.

A quick look at today’s consumer behavior lets us in on a little secret: It’s all about speed and convenience, and things are happening online.

Vehicle shopping isn’t a lot different. Because it’s a larger purchase, research takes slightly longer, but the fact remains that today’s consumers are accustomed to convenience, quick responses, and near-instant gratification.

Shoppers are looking for a seamless experience, no matter what industry they are shopping. In today’s hectic world, fast and convenient are the characteristics that win the day.

Many of us still remember the days of hiking through lot after lot of vehicles when shopping for a new car. Those days of car shopping, however, have gone by the wayside, and instead, by the time shoppers arrive at your dealership, they are well-informed, educated about the make and model they think they would like to purchase, and they are coming to you to seal the deal. They are ready for a test drive before they have even seen the vehicle in person.

According to the McKinsey report, car buyers now are so well-informed about what they want to buy that they average visiting only 1.6 dealerships while car shopping. Just 10 years ago, car buyers visited approximately 5 dealerships to make a car-buying decision.

As shoppers become savvier with their purchases and more intent on doing their own research, the number of times they visit brick & mortar dealerships is decreasing. This means that you, the dealer, need to find new and innovative ways to be front-of-mind with your customers in order to be the one they seek out when it is time to buy or bring their vehicle in for repairs.

The internet has changed the way everyone shops, and vehicle shopping is no different. Your customers are doing more of their own legwork, so what is left for the dealership to do?

Dealership Priorities

Your dealership is now in a unique position to market to potential buyers by leveraging a different set of tools. Instead of focusing on the customers primarily after they walk through the door, you need to shift your focus and get ahead of your customers’ decision-making process. 

By investing in quality data management and customer care technology, you will show your customers you care about the new way in which they want to shop. The technology you invest in will help you maintain an organized database, allowing you to access the information you need in order to best help your customers.

Focus on improving and updating your dealership’s online and social media capabilities. You need to go where your customers are and interact with your customers in the space where they are comfortable. If your customers are spending their time online (and they are!), you need to find your place there reach out.

Online capabilities should run smoothly and be easy to navigate for consumers. Your job as their go-to dealership is to provide a smooth overall process and encourage them to want to visit you again—either online or at your brick & mortar location.

Long-term customer loyalty is key in today’s market. Your technology-loving consumers will be quick to adopt things like life-cycle software and apps that help them care for their vehicles. Consider these when thinking about your business plan, and strive to build your long-term customer base as well as gain new customers. 

Remember that today’s consumers are looking for convenience andtechnologically advanced service, so strive to offer that in your sales and service arenas, and you will have happy customers who are returning time and again.

It is true that the internet has changed the way consumers shop, but as the philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Change is the only constant.” This proves itself time and again in the automotive industry, and successful professionals are going to be the ones who embrace the change and move forward with it. 

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