What’s missing in digital retailing solutions today?

By: Russ Chandler

If you work in the automotive industry in any capacity, there’s a really good chance that you’re aware of the plethora of digital retailing tools on the market today. You’ve got tools for trade appraisal, deal arrangement, calculating payments, scheduling test drives, etc. There are tools out there for just about every aspect of your dealership’s day-to-day consumer operations; and the ultimate goal of about 99% of these tools is to collect a lead.

While some tools are arguably better than others (according to consumer reviews and usage), there are a few problem areas that a majority of today’s tools possess — or rather, there are missing features that, if they existed, could transform these good tools into great ones.

So that leaves us with one important question: Just what’s missing from digital retailing solutions today? Allow me to explain:

They Aren’t Mutually Beneficial

The first issue I’ve observed with a lot of these digital retailing solutions is that they aren’t mutually beneficial. This basically means that only one party benefits from the tool itself — and it’s often just the dealer.

The whole point of consumers leveraging these tools is so they’re able to get answers to their questions and move further down the purchasing funnel. However, there are times when a consumer will only get a snippet of information (not enough to make or break a purchasing decision), while the dealer gets the whole shebang: name, address, phone number, email address, vehicle preferences, etc.

Not only does the lack of benefits deter consumers from filling out their information to begin with, but it makes the conversation completely one sided. When a consumer goes through a trade appraisal experience, they’re expecting answers — and the information that the dealer receives (from that experience) should be leveraged to better cater to a consumer’s needs.

Want to ensure that the tools on your website mutually beneficial? Make sure the tools you integrate onto your website give consumers what they want and need — and in order for them to get that trade appraisal or schedule that test drive, they’ll need to supply information to the dealer. It’s an equal exchange of information.

The Tools Aren’t Fully Connected to the Rest of your Website

Another common issue with digital retailing tools is that they’re often NOT connected to the rest of your website. Sure, they’re on almost every page of your website, but it’s more like these tools are just sitting on top of your website as opposed to being fully integrated into the code and talking to other tools on your website.

For example: Let’s say you’re a consumer and you visit a dealership’s website hoping to get both an appraisal of your vehicle and make an offer on a specific vehicle should you find one that interests you. You go through the trade appraisal experience no problem — getting your trade appraisal and a voucher for said appraisal after entering in your information. Now, after hunting around on the website for a section to make your offer, you have to go through the process of entering your information all over again.

If you’ve already entered your information, and the dealership knows who you are, why would you have to enter your information again? It might seem like a minor inconvenience, but connecting those two experiences together provides your dealership with insight into what a consumer is going after — and that, once again, helps with the consumer/dealer relationship.

The other connectivity issue you’ll see here is that the consumer had to go hunting for the “make an offer” section. If those tools were connected and “talking to one another,” a CTA (or call-to-action) could have popped following the previous experience to send them that way. A simple “What is your next step?” question in that trade appraisal experience could have pushed that consumer in the right direction. If experiences such as the ones I mentioned aren’t connected, the likelihood for a consumer to drop off or bounce off a page increases significantly.

If you find that the tools on your website aren’t as connected as you’d like them to be, all you need to do is reach out to your software provider and ask them if there are ways for those experiences to interact or talk to one another. Even if they don’t have that option just yet, simply inquiring can have a big impact on how many software and website providers continue to improve their products.

They Aren’t Customizable or Flexible

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: a one size fits all solution isn’t going to work. I repeat. A one size fills all solution isn’t going to work. In order for your website to be able to cater to different types of consumers, the digital retail solutions need to be customizable in some way, shape or form. Besides wanting to offer a unique experience to the consumer as they peruse your website, you want their answers they provide from those unique questions to allow your sales team to provide personalized follow-up.

Even if you don’t think your current digital retailing solution is able to be customized, you owe it to yourself to reach out to them and see what they can do for you. There might be customizable features that you’re unaware of, or ones that were just realized through an update. Now, if you’re shopping around for digital retailing solutions, all you need to do is look at the different ways you’d be able to possibly customize your experiences. Are you able to upload images? What about videos? Can you add custom questions or offer hyper personalized results based on things they’ve selected? Carefully look at the features of each software platform and ask lots of questions.

Making any sort of changes to your website can be pretty intimidating. After all, you risk compromising the very way you capture leads. You might be worried that you’re getting fewer leads. Just know that with software improvements often comes improvements in the quality of leads received. So even if you are receiving fewer leads, it’s safe to assume that those leads will be far better than ever before because you’re guiding these leads to exactly what they’re looking for — and that means you’re pushing them towards an actual purchase.

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