Increased access to the internet and the proliferation of smartphones have changed the way consumers navigate the used automotive market. Now buyers crave information and put hours of online research into their decisions. Attracting customers in the modern used car market requires providing consumers with the information they want via engaging content.
Here’s what modern shoppers expect from your online automotive merchandising strategy.
How to Reach Modern Shoppers with Your Online Automotive Merchandising Strategy
What Consumers Search For
Modern used car buyers start their shopping process with broad level searches. They’re typically looking for a select few makes and models with a specific year and mileage range in mind. Most importantly, they want the pages they find to include pricing information. Optimize your vehicle display pages for these searches, and include the information they want when they get there.
Despite the importance of having pricing information on ads and VDPs, shoppers aren’t necessarily looking for the lowest price. Most dealerships already price their vehicles at or below market value, making it difficult to stand out for pricing alone. Chasing the lowest price is a losing battle as well because someone will always be able to undercut you for the same vehicle.
What most shoppers are looking for in a used car is a good value for the price. They’re willing to pay a little bit more for the better vehicle. This means your pricing information needs to justify what you’re charging. A major part of demonstrating value will be highlighting the vehicle’s unique features.
Modern shoppers are interested in what sets your used cars apart from similar vehicles. Your online automotive merchandising materials should highlight any special features or equipment packages the car offers. Does it come with optional accessories? How about modern infotainment tech? Maybe it includes a special off-roading package. Highlighting this information helps you defend the vehicle’s price and foster customer excitement.
Vehicle History Reports and Reviews
Nearly every used car buyer is going to check a vehicle’s history report and reviews. Don’t force potential customers to look them up themselves. Post links to the reports on your VDPs and feature a few reviews. This lets them know you have confidence in the quality of vehicles, helping you build trust before they even enter the dealership.
Another way to foster trust with customers is to be transparent. Include thorough information on the vehicle. Try to anticipate any questions they’re likely to ask and answer these questions in your ads or on your VDPs. These questions may include:
- Is this car right for me?
- Why should I buy from this dealership?
- Why is this car better than the others I’ve seen?
- Is this car a lemon?
MAXDigital’s innovative online automotive merchandising platform can help you optimize your strategy for the now buyer. Schedule a demo to learn how MAX can help you enhance your VDPs and attract customers with quality, detailed ads.
Today’s average auto buyer only comes into one or two dealerships before they decide on which vehicle they’re going to be driving home in. The hours of comparisons and shopping models, packages, and options hasn’t vanished. It has moved somewhere else. Modern consumers spend hours online researching various dealerships’ vehicle display pages.
If you want to bridge the gap between online shoppers and in-store customers, you need to make your cars stand out with compelling and informative vehicle display pages.
Bring Customers into Your Dealership with Improved Vehicle Display Pages
By the time the customer reaches your VDPs they usually have their search narrowed down to a handful of vehicles at an even smaller amount of dealerships. The quality of these VDPs and how well they display the car are major factors influencing their decision on which dealership to go with.
Here’s what the modern consumer is looking for when they shop vehicle display pages.
Thorough, Accurate Vehicle Information
Information-age consumers are used to every aspect of their online experiences being specific to them. This makes them impossible to reach with generic vehicle descriptions. They want more than a broad overview. They want details about what makes your car unique.
Make sure to highlight any interesting feature or tech packages the vehicle may have. Justify the price by showing what makes your car stand out from similar models. Try to predict what questions consumers will have, and use your VDPs to answer them.
Transparency and accuracy the key to building trust in today’s auto market. Make sure the information is thorough and correct.
Show Off Your Vehicle
Visuals are another important component of your VDPs. Great vehicle photos make a huge difference, but they won’t do much good if the page is poorly designed. The page should be easy to take in, simple to navigate, and visually attractive. The organization of the page is almost as important as the information on it.
Made for Mobile. And Desktop. And Tablet.
Online shopping isn’t just done on desktops anymore. In fact, 51% of consumers said they used a smartphone or tablet in their vehicle shopping process, and this amount is only increasing.
If your VDPs look great on desktop but miserable on mobile, you’re missing out on a significant share of the market. Make sure your VDPs are optimized for all screen sizes.
Let MAXDigital Enhance Your VDPs
MAXDigital’s innovative automotive merchandising platform includes MAX for Website, a tool designed to enhance the design and content of your vehicle display pages. MAX optimized pages give customers:
- Key features and option packages
- Vehicle history through CARFAX®
- Market pricing, MSRP, and trade-in-value data
- Unique branding for your dealership
- Dealer Rater integration with ratings
Schedule a demo of our platform to learn how we can help you create compelling and informative VDPs.
Every month, MAXDigital recognizes and celebrates a dealership that demonstrates exceptional performance through our “Dealership-of-the-Month” program. Through the team’s hard work and effort, MAXDigital is honoring Lexus of Pleasanton with our October Dealership-of-the-Month! Lexus of Pleasanton walks every customer through the Max Digital Showroom page before any payment options are presented. Due to their diligent use of Max Digital Showroom, Lexus of Pleasanton averages 75% less in discounts per vehicle. They also use MAX window stickers, giving customers the ability to shop and learn about inventory on the lot, even while the dealership is closed. Lexus of Pleasanton is part of the Hendrick Automotive group which has more than 100+ dealerships across the United Sates. They also pride themselves as being active members in the Pleasanton, CA community. We are excited about Lexus of Pleasanton’s successful use of the MAXDigital Platform to reduce vehicle discounts and can’t wait to see their continued growth. We look forward to seeing what they will achieve in the future.
Again, Congratulations to Lexus of Pleasanton from the entire MAXDigital Team!
The internet has profoundly changed the way that people shop for cars; shouldn’t it change the way we merchandise cars?
In the past, shoppers made their decision after visiting several dealerships. Modern technology has moved most of the customer decision-making process online. So how can you use the internet to attract customers to your dealership?
MAXDigital offers several tools that can help you build a bulletproof automotive merchandising strategy.
How MAXDigital’s Automotive Merchandising Platform Guides Customers into Your Vehicles
The decision to buy any product doesn’t happen all at once. It is a multi-step process, with opportunities to optimize your merchandising at every step. MAXDigital takes this into account and has developed a tool to help you fortify your merchandising plan.
MAXDigital Tool: MAX Ad
At the earliest stage of the process the customer merely knows they need a new car. Your dealership isn’t even on their radar at this point and MAX Ad helps bring it to shopper’s attention.
The typical auto shopper may spend as many as 16.75 hours researching cars on third-party websites like Cars.com and Auto Trader. MAX Ad puts your vehicles in front of these consumers by distributing ads to over 200 third-party auto websites.
The ads are automatically generated based on your inventory. Each ad is filled with detailed information that answers all common customer questions.
MAXDigital Tool: MAX For Website
Once a consumer is brought to your website, your battle isn’t over. They’ll be looking at your VDPs, along with other dealership’s VDPs, to find the exact vehicle they want. In fact, a majority of customers have already narrowed their choice down to one or two cars before they stop in a dealership.
Is your VDP attractive and well organized? Does it show what sets the vehicle apart? If the answer to either question is no, shoppers are likely to move on to another dealership.
MAX for Website helps you optimize your VDP’s to draw in customers. MAX enhanced VDP’s offer detailed vehicle information in a simple and intuitive format. It also provides thorough price justification, letting customers know they’re getting the best deal on your vehicle.
MAXDigital Tool: MAX Digital Showroom
So your VDPs did the trick. The customer has decided they want your car and they come into your dealership to buy it. Your merchandising efforts have paid off and you’re in the clear. Right?
Not so fast. At this stage, the customer is going to try to get you to drop the price of your vehicle, and they’re going into the negotiation armed with hours of research. In many cases, the customer knows more about the car than your salesperson.
When salespeople are unable to defend the vehicle’s price, they drop it to make the sale.
The MAX Digital Showroom app arms your sales staff with easy mobile device access to detailed information on every car in your lot. This tool helps each salesperson demonstrate the value of each vehicle and justify the price point, helping them protect your profit margin.
Bring your automotive merchandising strategy into the 21st century. MAX Digital can help you attract customers at every stage of the decision-making process to help your dealership grow. Sign up for a demonstration to learn how MAX can help you.
Hundreds of representatives from the country’s biggest automotive dealers, dealership software companies, and automotive marketing experts met at the iconic Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Digital Dealer 23.
From September 18-20 these industry leaders shared ideas and strategies on how dealerships can thrive in the changing automotive sales landscape. MAX Digital came to join the conversation and demonstrate their unique automotive software solutions. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a look at what you missed from MAX Digital at the 23rd Digital Dealer conference.
Recap of Digital Dealer 23
Anyone involved in the auto industry can see how much it’s changed. Customers do hours of research online before even stepping into the dealership. In this information age, your dealership’s online presence is your most powerful merchandising tool. Digital Dealer provided dealerships the information they need to hone this tool.
Attendees had the opportunity to gain insight at over a hundred different educational sessions, panels, and addresses throughout the conference.
- Industry disruptors
- Effective merchandising
- Vendor-dealer relations
How to Turn Your Sales Team into Product Experts
— MAXDigital (@MAXdigitalLLC) September 19, 2017
MAX Digital’s Senior VP of Strategy and Innovation, Patrick McMullen, led one of these educational sessions. McMullen’s session addressed how dealerships could turn their sales staff into product experts.
The average auto shopper does 14 hours of online research before he or she stops by your dealership. These customers often come in knowing more about the car they’re looking to buy than your sales team. Not able to defend the pricing, these salespeople often need to drop the price to make the sale.
McMullen showed how dealerships can prepare their sales team to become experts on every car on the lot. By having the information to respond to every concern, your sales staff can build trust with customers and protect your profit margins.
Free Demos at the MAX Digital Booth
The educational session wasn’t the only opportunity attendees had to see MAX Digital. MAX had a booth set up where dealer representatives could learn more about the MAX Digital automotive merchandising platform.
MAX offered free demos, providing a first-hand look at our platform. MAX’s software helps enhance dealership’s VDP’s, creates and distributes quality ads, and arms your sales staff with the information they need to become product experts.
Even if you missed out on the conference, you don’t need to miss out on learning about MAX Digital. Schedule a demo and experience how our platform can help your dealership.
Don’t Miss Out the Next Time
MAX Digital is proud to have been a part of Digital Dealer 23. Make sure you don’t miss your next chance to see MAX in person. Follow our blog, Facebook, or Twitter to find out where we’re going next.
Make sure to save the date for Digital Dealer 24, which will be held April 10-12 in Orlando, Florida.
Every month, MAXDigital recognizes and celebrates a dealership that demonstrates exceptional performance through our “Dealership-of-the-Month” program. Through the team’s hard work and effort, MAXDigital is honoring Courtesy Nissan of Tampa with our September Dealership-of-the-Month! Courtesy Nissan loves MAXDigital’s ability to decode VIN’s online. The decoding ability makes it easy for their sales people to build value on every vehicle and close more deals at list price. Courtesy Nissan has also seen an increase of used car sales volume of 30% YOY for June, July and August in 2017. They have also set an all-time sales record during the month of August 2017 with 190 pre-owned units sold. Courtesy Nissan is part of the Asbury Automotive Group that operates more than 80 dealerships across the southern United States. Courtesy Nissan of Tampa has also received many industry awards on their quality and customer satisfaction. We are excited about Courtesy Nissan’s continued growth and look forward to see what they will achieve in the future.
Again, Congratulations to Courtesy Nissan from the entire MAXDigital Team!
Dealerships today face a constant struggle to sell in a digital marketplace that continues to grow. The vast majority of consumers research vehicles online before ever stepping foot inside a dealership. The average consumer conducts 14 hours of online research before they end up purchasing a used car (2016 Auto Trader Study). Is it possible they’re more informed than your salesperson who has 100 cars on the lot? You bet they are, especially since salesperson turnover rate for the automotive industry is a whopping 67 percent.
What does this mean for your sales? It means the second your team says something that doesn’t jive with what the customer “knows,” trust is out the window. That’s when you’re forced to drop price to save the sale. With customers becoming more and more knowledgeable, it is time to reevaluate and adapt your sales processes to make sure you win over today’s very knowledgeable consumer.
MAXDigital SVP of Strategy and Innovation, Patrick McMullen, will outline some very clear ways that you and your sales teams can level the playing field, focusing on three key areas:
- Embrace Technology: how to turn sales staff into the product experts they should be (hint: ditch the guess work)
- Make the Car the Star: how to implement a new selling strategy that focuses on quality and value behind the price
- Build Trust: how to build trust with consumers, so they’ll choose to come to your dealership over all others
It’s time to stop relying on price dropping just to make the sale. To hear more from Patrick about how to “Stop the Drop” and turn your team into product experts and increase profits, attend his Digital Dealer presentation:
Monday, September 18, 2017
1:30 – 2:20 p.m.
In today’s incredibly competitive and increasingly digital automotive market, dealerships need to do whatever they can to set themselves apart from their competition. Chances are there’s a dealership a short distance away that also sells the same vehicles you do, and at similar prices.
So, how can you make sure shoppers come to your dealership when it is time to buy? That is where having a strong automotive merchandising strategy comes in.
What is Automotive Merchandising?
The most simple definition of merchandising is any behavior taken to promote and sell a product. This includes more than you think, as every form of contact between your dealership and your customers, from ads and your website to speaking to your sales staff, fits under that umbrella.
A strong automotive merchandising strategy means optimizing as many of these interactions as possible.
Why is Strong Automotive Merchandising Important to Your Dealership?
Unfortunately, your cars don’t sell themselves, and others are trying to sell similar vehicles to your potential customers. Employing a strong automotive merchandising strategy helps you by:
- Helping your dealership be discovered by shoppers
- Convincing those shoppers to come into your dealership
- Converting prospective buyers into customers
- Encouraging those customers to return to your dealership
What You Need to Know to Have Strong Automotive Merchandising
As we’ve mentioned, strong automotive merchandising encompasses many aspects of your business, including:
- Marketing and ads
- Your website content
- Your website’s design
- Sales-customer interactions
- Customer interactions with any member of your staff
Keep these in mind as you learn some strategies for strengthening your own merchandising
Consumers Make Their Decisions Online
People used to shop around at multiple dealerships to find the cars they wanted. Now 46% of people only visit one dealership. They’re not doing any less shopping. They’re just changing the location. The average buyer spends more than 16 hours researching their automotive purchases online.
Consumers want transparency. Your online ads, VDPs, and other merchandising pages need to have thorough and detailed information on each vehicle. It is paramount that this content includes price justification, which lets customers know they’re getting a good deal.
Don’t expect this online shopping trend to slow down. If your dealership does not have an online component to your merchandising strategy, you will get left behind.
Trust is Important, Make Sure You’re Accurate
In past decades, auto salespeople have developed a reputation for being untrustworthy. Consumers just accepted dealing with this as an occasional part of life. With the increased emphasis on information and transparency, building trust has become a huge part of merchandising.
Customers can verify the information on your website, so make sure it is all accurate and up to date. They also expect similar accuracy and honestly from your sales team. If your facts are off, you run the risk of losing trust, and people will not buy from you if they do not trust you.
Visuals Can Be as Important as Content
It doesn’t matter how much online content you have, if your website looks unattractive or is difficult to read or navigate, potential customers will lose interest.
Web pages need to be well-designed and intuitive. The information should be organized in a way that is easy to digest and understand. Use of good photos and other visuals can also do a lot to enhance a page.
You Need to Make Each Vehicle Stand Out
Chances are, you’re not the only local dealership selling from your manufacturers, and you’re certainly not the only local dealership selling your class of vehicle. Give buyers a reason to choose your specific car.
People don’t shop based on price alone, and anyone can lower the price of a car. Shoppers want value, and by pointing out what makes your products unique, you demonstrate your value.
Mention unique attributes of the vehicles on your inventory. Maybe it has some luxury or tech package. Perhaps it has very low mileage. Include this information in your ads and website content. These details also help justify when a vehicle has a higher price than a competitor’s.
Make Your Automotive Merchandising Stronger with MAX
No one said strong automotive merchandising would be simple. Fortunately, MAX Digital can make it much easier. Our online auto merchandising platform helps you enhance your online content, create informative ads, and turns your sales team into experts on every vehicle on your lot. Sign up for a demo and learn how MAX can help your dealership.
Digital Dealer 2017 is upon us, and there are just a few days left to take advantage of the advanced registration rate. A meeting of many of the most influential thought leaders in the auto industry, Digital Dealer is a great place to find new strategies on growing your dealership.
See MAX Digital at the 2017 Digital Dealer Conference and Expo
The 23rd annual conference, 2017’s Digital Dealer conference is being held at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, from September 18-20. With 90 of the 100 top US dealership groups attending, Digital Dealer is a can’t-miss opportunity.
Digital Dealer also features an open exhibition hall of companies offering demos of all of the latest and most innovative tech advances for auto dealers, like MAX Digital’s platform.
Gain Insight from Industry Leaders
Guests can take part in over 100 educational sessions and panels, offering new ideas on how dealerships can thrive in the 21st century. This includes:
- A keynote address from Brian Benstock, General Manager and Vice President of Paragon Honda and Acura, the world’s top Honda and Acura certified dealers.
- A keynote panel on creating more friendly and fruitful relationships between dealerships and vendors.
- A keynote panel on utilizing the principles of disruptive growth to succeed in today’s highly competitive market.
Hear Patrick McMullen, MAX’s SVP of Strategy and Innovation
One of these education sessions is being led by MAX Digital’s Senior VP of Strategy and Innovation, Patrick McMullen. McMullen will be teaching dealerships how to turn their sales team into experts, and how doing so can build trust in customers and increase your sales.
Stop by the MAX Digital Booth for a Free Demo
You can also talk to us in person when you visit the MAX Digital at booth #713. There you will be able to experience our software platform first hand with a free demo. MAX Digital lets you enhance your online content to better merchandise your inventory.
Easy access to information through the internet has fundamentally changed the way people shop for cars. Ignoring these changes can mean massive losses in revenue for your dealership as you either fail to attract leads or need to drop your prices to sell your stock.
Fortunately, customers are looking for your products online right now. In a recent Driving Sales webinar Patrick McMullen, Senior VP of Strategy and Innovation at MAX Digital, and Chad Graves, Co-Founder and Director of Sales at Reunion Marketing, lay out strategies for increasing leads online and selling to the modern buyer.
Increase Leads and Sell More Inventory With MAX Digital
Auto dealerships are starting to see radical new competition from industry disruptors like Carvana. These changes come with an increase in used inventory to create a shift that can hurt dealerships who don’t adjust their strategies.
How Does the Modern Buyer Shop for Cars?
In the past, customers shopped with physical visits to multiple dealerships before making a decision. Now, a majority of customer decision making is done online. The average consumer spends as much as 16.75 hours on third-party and dealership websites choosing their next car.
After doing their research online, the average shopper only visits one or two dealerships in person. Success in increasing leads is dependant on having the online presence to bring those customers in. McMullen said, “It used to be that our… physical front line was the most important place. Now it’s our virtual front line. Our virtual front line is the first time we have to make an impression on that customer.”
Attracting the Now Buyer
The first key to attracting leads to your lot is being where they’re looking. Graves described how utilizing SEO and SEM strategies can help you appear near the top of the results when people search for your vehicles.
Consumers want transparency and information. Once they arrive on your website, you need to make sure that your content is optimized to give them the information they need to convert and choose your dealership.
Your website should have dedicated pages for vehicles that demonstrate their value clearly. Most customers don’t buy cars on price alone, instead choosing the car that offers the most value and quality. Your VDPs should mention specific package information and answer any questions a visitor may have about the car.
Selling to the Now Buyer
Your work isn’t over once you get customers into your store. With the massive amount of research they do before coming in, buyers are likely to know more about the car they’re after than even your sales team.
The MAX Digital Showroom app puts information about every car on your lot at the fingertips of your sales team. By having access to this information, they can have the expertise they need to build trust with your customers. It will also arm them with the information they need to fight price drops.
By adapting your strategy to the now buyer, you can increase leads, store visits, and profits for your dealership. Listen to the full webinar below for more insights, or schedule a demo to see how MAX Digital can help you.