There is no crystal ball that can tell the future of automotive retail. But we can come to logical conclusions based on data and analysis. As it stands, there is a future beyond brick and mortar. While this may seem like doomsday for some dealerships, others are reveling in the prospect of a new digital future. But that’s not all there is to the story. At least for the next few years, there will be a divide on how consumers shop and how they buy. It’s up to savvy dealers to understand the different approaches that customers are taking, and embrace all the valuable sales enablement tools that can help achieve harmony between physical sales and digital retailing. 

According to a study done by McKinsey & Company, digital channels in the automotive-purchase experience are becoming more relevant. There still exists a divide between offline touchpoints and online touchpoints. As it stands, your store is still critical to influencing buying decisions. The study states that 70% of car buyers consider the dealership as a major touchpoint for experiencing the vehicle. So, while online properties continue to drive marketing, brand awareness, and remote sales opportunities, it is your lot and store that will be the number one driver for influencing purchase decisions.

What does that mean for digital retailing then? Think of your online touchpoints as an augmentation to your store. They are an extension of your lot. This allows you to reach a greater audience while also providing as much information as possible. When you supplement your existing processes with advanced sales enablement tools, you expand on your ability to do what you do best: sell cars.

Currently, there are numerous parts of that car buying process that occur offline that will remain that way. But many consumers would like there to be more opportunities to engage digitally. Certain aspects can be made to be done in that manner, but others simply cannot. It is up to car dealers to embrace the traditional and the progressive in order to create a hybrid environment where customers have the choice of how, where, and when they shop. 

Your team needs to be prepared to engage with these different customer personas. Arm your staff with the data needed so that they can answer all of your customer’s questions. In doing so, you enhance the customer experience by providing them with next-level service. Your team will be able to anticipate the needs of your customers and answer any questions before they are asked. Customers will have more confidence in your staff who now become more of a consultant and less of a salesperson. Doing this will also add a new layer of honesty and transparency for your customers. 

For many car dealers, the road to the future is paved in uncertainty. But there are a few key actions that can be done in order to elevate your store’s chances for success. Always remember that the sale process is evolving. Be sure to plug-in to your customers to find out what’s trending and what sort of experience they want. Get as much data as you can while deploying top-tier sales enablement tools. Learn more about solutions available to help you conquer the digital divide between your store and consumers.