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What Car Shoppers Expect From Dealership Websites

Young man doing something on laptop in his kitchen.Looking worried.

As a dealer, your website is rapidly becoming your most powerful tool for driving sales. Thus, the Customer Experience (CX) on your website is paramount to your success.

But this should be obvious.

What might not be obvious is that the expectations consumers have of your website experience aren’t being set just by your competitors, but by internet behemoths like Google and Facebook.

If your site delivers the same excellent CX that Google and Facebook have taught your customers to expect, they’ll have an easy, complaint-free online shopping experience.

But if your website doesn’t measure up to the standards that have been set, the shopping experience will be defined by frustration, impatience, and annoyance. This negative experience can easily be enough to drive away a customer before they’ve even found a car they like, dropping your chances of a sale to zero.

Facebook, Instagram, Google, and other similar companies have grown to be massive successes by delivering their users with the best online CX possible. Here are three of their features that can be easily applied to improving your dealership’s online Customer Experience (CX).

1. Personalization of Online Content

In an Accenture study of 13,000 participants, 80% said they want access to more intuitive, customized online content, and none are better at providing this than Facebook. Algorithms learn what you like, what you click on, what you remove from your page, and personalize your Facebook experience based on these.

Given that buyers spend 40 minutes on Facebook per day (Business Insider), it’s no surprise that internet users would come to expect this level of personalization from other websites. If you aren’t using in-market search data to customize your web content and inventory highlights to each potential buyer, you aren’t keeping up with their expectations.

2. Google-Level Search Function

If Facebook is the king of personalization, Google is undoubtedly the king of search. Google has built such a strong search empire that the term “Google it” is synonymous with “look it up on the internet.”

Thanks to Google, car shoppers have come to expect a lot from search functions. Shoppers expect search results that are meaningful, simple, intuitive, and exactly what they were looking for. If they spell something wrong, they expect your search function to know what they meant. If they type in the beginning of a word, but get lazy halfway through and stop typing, they expect your search function to suggest the right full word. If they list a small novel’s worth of keywords, they expect your search function to be able to narrow down to exactly what they want.

Google has set the gold standard for search, and if your search isn’t as polished, or worse, you don’t have a free-text search feature, you’re disappointing car shoppers and making it difficult and frustrating for them to find what they want on your website.

3. Better Mobile Content Delivery

Accenture reports that 2/3 of people want better mobile-based content delivery. With over 50% of car shoppers now using mobile (Edmunds, 2015), upgrading your mobile content delivery may give your dealership a real edge.

Any time a mobile user must perform an action – be it setting a filter or changing the page on your SRP – they have a significant chance of giving up and bouncing. Facebook, Instagram, and countless other apps have an easy answer for this issue: they make all the content accessible on a single page.

What makes it so easy to spend a ton of time on Facebook is that you can scroll through virtually limitless content on your newsfeed. Applying the same concept to your SRPs would allow shoppers to browse your inventory for as long as they need without getting fed up and bouncing.

Thanks to Google, Facebook, and other internet giants, today’s automotive shoppers have higher standards for dealership websites than they ever did before. Dealerships who invest in meeting these standards will not only see increases in sales and customer satisfaction, but will also position their stores as the go-to online car shopping resource in their market for years to come.