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Automotive e-commerce – what does it really mean?

Automotive e-commerce – what does it really mean?

Author: Natalie Banks - Digital Marketing Specialist

During the pandemic, the way automotive dealerships transact changed dramatically. Going from having customers arrive at the dealership or wander round the forecourt, to transacting completely online, dealers have had to quickly adopt new ways of serving customers.

One of the ways dealers continued to trade during the pandemic was to implement an e-commerce function onto their website, allowing customers to reserve or buy a car online, only visiting the dealership to test drive and collect their vehicle.

Dealers don’t need to encourage customers to purchase online but having the option available means customers have the option to adopt the method they are most comfortable. By failing to adopt e-commerce functionality, dealers may be limiting themselves as customers who want to complete transactions remotely, will likely look elsewhere.

What does e-commerce mean?

E-commerce doesn’t have to mean that the customer completes the entire transaction online – it can mean they are using the platform to complete just part of the transaction from the comfort of their own home at a time to suit them. This allows the customer to transact with the dealership into the evening when the dealership is physically closed, essentially extending business hours, without increasing working hours.

Brochure request – allowing customers to request a brochure for the car they are interested in allows you to gather customer details at the initial point of interest. Usually, a customer will enter their contact details in order to download a brochure. Dealers who want a more personal experience could email the brochure across with a welcome message and details of their point of contact.

Valuation – getting a price for their existing car might be one of the first part of the transaction for the customer. By offering the customer a price for their current car, it can help them determine what budget they have left to put towards a new vehicle, and also whether now is the time to sell. If the customer doesn’t get a good enough price, they may decide to hold on to their car. Conversely, if the valuation comes back as higher than anticipated, it means they have more funds to put towards their next car.

Reserve a Car – allowing customers to reserve a car online offers confidence that the car will still be available when the customer comes to the dealership. Often, dealerships will reserve the car for up to 1 week, allowing the customer time to arrange an appointment to take a test drive.

The car reservation option is often the first part of the transaction, as customers who are happy to pay a fee to reserve a car, are often further down in the funnel than someone who turns up to look round a forecourt.

Buy online – this is the highest level of commitment available, allowing customers to complete the whole transaction online. This is more suited to new car sales, but can also included used cars. When it comes to selling used cars online, dealers should ensure they are advertising the vehicle clearly with plenty of photographs, highlighting any issues clearly to ensure you comply with distance selling regulations.

Here at Autoweb Design, we can integrate our very own e-commerce solution as standard onto your website, at no extra charge to you. This means you can choose the level of e-commerce functionality you are ready to adopt. If you are looking to switch website providers, see how Autoweb Design can help.

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