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3 Trends That Could Kill Your Dealership in 2016

There’s little denying that technology is dramatically changing the world around us. The proliferation of the internet and connected mobile devices is changing the way we watch sports, read the news, connect with friends and family, and yes, it’s even changing how we shop for cars. With a vast wealth of information available at the mere touch of a button or scroll of a thumb, today’s auto shoppers are more empowered in the shopping process than ever before.

As technology continues to change the consumer landscape, dealers who fail to provide their shoppers with a fast, intuitive, and easy online shopping experience risk losing sales, market share, and ultimately falling behind the competition. Here are three trends for dealerships to pay attention to in 2016 as well as some practical advice for how to take advantage of them:

Car Shopping Has Moved Online

With 24/7 access to websites, consumer reviews, vehicle comparisons, and the opinions of friends and family, consumers are now completing the majority of the shopping process online – before ever visiting a dealership. The effect of this on automotive retailers has been staggering.

Speech Bubble - Dealerships VisitedAccording to a report by McKinsey & Company, the average number of dealerships a shopper visits before buying a car has fallen from 5 in 2004 to just 1.6 today, with many shoppers visiting just a single dealership before making a purchase. This means that most shoppers have decided exactly which vehicle to purchase from which dealership before they ever talk to a salesperson.

So, what can dealers do to make sure shoppers are visiting their dealership instead of their competitor down the street?

The answer is simple. The dealership that does the best job merchandising their vehicles online will win the battle. Highlighting the unique equipment and features of each VIN on your SRPs and VDPs will make it easy for shoppers to find the exact vehicle they want.


Auto Shoppers Are Going Mobile

According to a recent study by Facebook, 71% of all automotive shoppers used mobile during the purchase process. With mobile devices getting more powerful and data plans more affordable, this trend is showing no signs of slowing down. 58% of automotive shoppers say that in the future their smartphone will be the only device they will use for vehicle research.

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Despite the growing preference for shopping for cars on mobile, it appears that most dealerships haven’t caught up to the trend. In a related study, Facebook determined that 7 in 10 mobile-first auto shoppers report feeling overwhelmed by all the information available. Moreover, mobile device shoppers are 3 times more likely to find it difficult to get the information they need to make their car-purchasing decision compared to those who do most of their research on other devices.

The fact that most dealerships are not providing an adequate mobile website experience spells great opportunity for dealers who wish to get ahead of the competition. Here are three things you can do to ensure that your dealership’s mobile website experience blows the competition out of the water:

  1. Focus on simplicity and ease-of-use in the mobile user experience
  2. Make sure your SRPs and VDPs only show the most important information on small screen sizes
  3. Utilize responsive website technology to ensure SRPs and VDPs render correctly on mobile & tablet

Consumer Attention Spans Are Dropping

According to Microsoft, the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds today. That’s shorter than the 9 second attention span of a goldfish! While this is certainly an alarming statistic, what does it mean for your dealership?

Short attention spans actually have an impact on your bottom line. Amazon found that every 100 milliseconds of website latency cost them 1% in sales. While they are not a car dealership, the lesson is clear: if your website is slow, you will lose shoppers; and if you lose shoppers, you will lose sales.

Additionally, a study by Google shows that consumers judge a website’s beauty and perceived functionality in 1/20th to 1/50th of a second. If consumers like what they see, the website is more likely to be explored longer and more thoroughly. So, what can your dealership do to combat dropping attention spans?

  1. Ensure your website has best-in-class speed – especially SRPs and VDPs
  2. Focus your website on clear, simple call-to-actions
  3. Get the right information in front of the shopper at the right time through proper website design UX


Technology will continue to change the automotive shopping experience. As we continue into an increasingly digital future, there is enormous opportunity for dealerships to quickly adapt and thrive as a result of these changes.

Those dealerships that keep a sharp eye on the automotive consumer and their behavior will continue to get further and further ahead of the competition. Those that don’t will likely find themselves wondering how they fell so far behind.

How will your dealership take advantage of changes in automotive shopping?