Mobile isn't taking over the world — it's already conquered the everyday consumer experience and changed the fundamental nature of online purchasing. According to Retail Dive, 77 percent of smartphone users now check mobile sites before making an in-store purchase.
And while large-ticket items such as vehicles were historically off-limits for mobile purchasing, increasing consumer confidence means multi-location owners must tap new solutions — such as mobile-native apps and unified communications — to deliver car dealership mobility benefits. Here's what auto dealers need to know to keep up with these changes.
Many dealerships have embraced the evolution of technology to offer their own version of a car-browsing app. But this is just the beginning.
The New York Times points to emerging apps that allow prospective buyers to apply for auto financing online, which is accepted by thousands of car dealers across the country. And as noted by Internet Retailing, one Chinese online marketplace now lets consumers test drive and purchase new cars from a giant vending machine — with all the heavy lifting handled by a mobile app.
Meanwhile, a leading consumer technology company has partnered with a Swedish car maker to offer vehicle subscriptions. For $600 a month, drivers get a four-wheel drive SUV with insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance — all without making a deposit or visiting a dealership.
The bottom line? The way consumers evaluate and purchase vehicles is changing as their expectations for low-pressure, seamless interactions bleed over from mobile devices to the vehicle-buying process. For dealerships, the message is clear: keep up or get left behind.
Adding the Human Touch to Car Dealership Mobility Benefits
It's not all bad news for car dealerships: As noted by USA Today, auto sales outpaced analyst predictions in March 2018 with a jump of six percent. According to Auto Remarketing, part of the success comes from embracing apps and partnerships with traditional retail giants, some of which now let members purchase discounted new and pre-owned cars through participating dealerships without having to struggle through the negotiation and research process.
The caveat? Technology can only take you so far. It's critical to focus on mobile, but this must be paired with improved customer experience. For multi-location dealerships, this is even more important: Prospective buyers need the same type of attention and care regardless of which group dealership they visit.
What does this mean for companies looking to tap car dealership mobility benefits? It's important to strike a balance between the human touch and automated technologies that improve ease of access. Customers need to know they can easily get human help if they need it at any time during the buying process, regardless of which platform they're using.
So how do car dealerships optimize the benefits of mobile solutions without losing the human touch? Consider the use of unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), which leverages cloud-based technology to connect human sales personnel to potential buyers through mobile devices. Specific use cases include:
- Cross Platform Support: UCaaS solutions empower mobility for multi-location dealerships by providing prospective buyers a unified, streamlined customer experience regardless of device. In practice, this means empowering consumers to browse car details on your website, tag specific options or models for further reference, then seamlessly access the same data through your mobile app.
- Total Connection: Want to frustrate buyers and convince them to shop somewhere else? Make it difficult to track down sales staff after customers leave the showroom. This isn't intentional — salespeople are busy closing deals and completing paperwork and may not be available at a moment's notice. But for prospective buyers, the reason they can't get prompt answers to questions about price or stock isn't relevant. UCaaS integration lets dealerships tap the benefit of chatbots programmed to answer questions about pricing, availability, and features, while call forwarding and message transcription help ensure that salespeople are immediately notified if customers need human assistance.
- The Total Package: The showroom used to be make-or-break for car sales. Now the showroom experience is merely one aspect of a much longer sales funnel. The result? Dealerships must engage with customers from the moment they land on webpages or fire up mobile apps. This means integrating everything from stock searches to comparison tools to social media pages and video links — whatever consumers want, they must be able to find it quickly and easily. The right UCaaS framework both lays the groundwork for total-package auto sales and also evolves along with multi-dealership needs as new apps are released and chatbot sophistication improves.
Car dealerships can't afford to ignore the power of mobile devices. The hard truth? Having an app isn't enough — tapping car dealership mobility benefits means integrating UCaaS solutions that empower cross-platform support, on-demand connection, and seamless user experience.