Showrooming: a recent phenomenon brought about by mobile technology wherein automotive shoppers use their mobile devices to shop online while they are on a dealership’s lot. As if technology hadn’t complicated the sales process enough! In partnership with a location-based analytics firm called Placed, Cars.com published a recent study on this troublesome behavior, finding that 63% of auto shoppers used their mobile devices to research and shop while on a dealer’s lot. Perhaps even more alarming, these mobile shoppers are 72% more likely to visit additional dealerships than shoppers who don’t use their mobile phones in showrooms.
The implications here are simple: dealerships who fail to adapt to mobile showrooming stand to lose a lot of sales. The flip side of this, of course, is that those dealerships who do adapt stand not only to retain their showroom visitors, but also to steal a significant number of sales from their competitors. Here are three things you can do to lead your dealership to success in the mobile-first world:
Make sure your website is mobile-optimized
This is the first and probably most important step in ensuring your dealership thrives in the mobile-first world. A strong mobile presence with well-merchandised inventory and special offers will not only help you retain your own showroom visitors, but will also be crucial to conquesting visitors off the lots of your competitors.
As such, make sure your website is designed with the mobile-first shopper in mind. It should be intuitive and aesthetically pleasing, all the while focusing on simple, clear call-to-actions to effectively showcase your inventory and incentives on the showrooming shopper’s small screen size. Responsive web design is an excellent choice, as it adapts all the important areas of your website such as your SRPs or VDPs to any screen size or orientation – all without requiring a separate domain.
Consumers’ everyday use of Google and Facebook has led them to expect the same functionalities on dealer websites. Features such as suggestive search (which can correct misspellings a shopper may make due to fat fingers), or infinite scrolling on your SRPs, can improve shopper engagement by making it fast and easy for them to find what they’re looking while they’re showrooming on mobile devices.
Advertise to shoppers showrooming on competing dealer lots
Once you’ve optimized your mobile website experience, it’s time to start driving some traffic. According to Cars.com, 33% of shoppers who
visited another dealership were lured by online ads. Using a technology known as geo-fencing, savvy dealerships can utilize precise GPS
location data emitted by every shopper’s phone to target them with ads while they are showrooming on a competing dealership’s lot.
Dealerships that are successful with this sort of mobile advertising change their messaging depending on where the shopper is. For
shoppers in an out-of-brand showroom, effective messaging might promote the advantages of your dealership’s models over your competitor’s models. In contrast, when targeting shoppers showrooming on an in-brand competitor’s lot, messaging should focus on reasons (such as a special offer) why the shopper should pick your dealership over the competitor. In either case, the messaging should provide a compelling reason why the shopper should leave your competitor’s dealership and come buy a car from yours.
Integrate mobile into your sales process
Regardless of how well you optimize your site for mobile, or how well you advertise, shoppers are still going to shop your competitors while they are in your showroom – that is, unless you can grab and hold their attention before they get a chance.
The first step to a proactive approach to mobile showrooming is to make sure your sales staff is well equipped and empowered to communicate the value of your dealership to these shoppers. Make sure these shoppers are aware of alternative inventory options, price-matching programs, and reasons for variance in price, such as added features.
One very effective solution to the showrooming problem may be to equip your sales staff with mobile tablets. Your salespeople can then use an OEM app or your website as point-of-sale collateral, which they can use to present visual information to the customer. Not only does this transparent approach build trust with the shopper, but it also removes the need for the shopper to go online themselves, while simultaneously putting the salesperson in control of the experience.
With automotive shoppers growing more tech-savvy, mobile technology will continue to disrupt and change the way people shop for cars. The dealerships that approach this new behavior proactively stand to gain the loyalty and dollars of an increasingly mobile consumer, while those that don’t will become increasingly frustrated as they lose shoppers to their mobile-savvy competitor down the street.
What’s your dealership’s strategy for taking advantage of mobile showrooming?