Car dealerships are an interesting business model in the age of ‘ecommerce’. While so many new startups aim to be entirely ‘online’, dealerships have to establish both a strong physical brick & mortar presence while also having a strong online presence and engagement.
While we’ve seen small inroads to entirely online car purchases, the business as a whole still relies significantly on physical and online. In fact, the online side of the business is less about ecommerce and more about acting as a channel to drive people into the dealership. We don’t anticipate this changing in the near future. The expression here is ‘clicks to bricks’.
From a buyer journey, car dealers need to be aware that the journey starts online and ends in the dealership. There are many steps in the journey, and each is a potential point of abandonment. To truly fulfill a clicks-to-bricks journey, care needs to be taken from the first click to signing the dotted line.
The first step in this journey is to ensure online savvy car shoppers can find your website. Dealers are typically following a multi-channel approach: SEO, print advertising, online advertising and social being the major avenues.
Getting visitors to your website is only the first battle – engaging visitors and preventing abandonment is the next step. This means fine-tuning your website to maximize conversion, having compelling offers, and the right suite of tools to drive engagement.
Finally, you need the ‘hook’ that will drive your online visitor into the store. This can take many forms and include trade offers, credit applications and service offers.
All of this means car dealers are finding themselves at the forefront of both online marketing and brick & mortar marketing and conversion, making them leaders and subject matter experts. When car dealers are willing to share tricks of the trades, all industries and verticals should sit up and pay attention – they can teach us a lot!