Over the past few years, there has been speculation that the car-buying processes are going to shift entirely online. While trends did move that way, experts predict that online car-buying has peaked as consumers are looking to head back to the dealerships at last.
The consumers that seem most likely to shop online, Gen Z, are actually more likely to head to the dealerships to finalize their purchases. While this is good news, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going online at all. However, “consumers, in particular young ones, don’t want an online-only shopping experience for major purchases; they want an omni-channel experience” (NADA). Many people will do their initial research and comparisons online from the comfort of their home, but when it comes to physically making such a big purchase, people want to test drive a car and see it in person first. In fact, according to research from Urban Science and Harris, “85% of auto-buying consumers agree that a vehicle is too big an investment to risk not seeing it before you buy, and 83% would never buy a vehicle without test driving it first” (NADA).
Especially for younger generations who have been forced to put off buying a house until later in life, a car is the first significant purchase they will make. After spending the last few years shopping primarily online, there is a novelty to going into a dealership to see and feel the car before buying.
This is where the Fixed Operations Departments come in. There are so many reasons that your dealership needs to be a front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house machine.
During the car-buying process, the salesperson should escort the consumer to the service, parts, and accessories departments to show them around, let them know about your Service Menu Page on your website, all the amenities and features that are offered, as well as why it is important to service with factory-trained technicians utilizing OEM parts throughout the life of the vehicle (not just during warranty). This will turn a customer into one who is loyal to your brand and dealership, which, as we all know, generates loyal word-of-mouth.
Dealership loyalty and brand loyalty are becoming increasingly important as manufacturers come out of the chip shortage and are able to sell a larger inventory to consumers once again. In fact, for customers looking to purchase another vehicle in 2022, 41% say that vehicle brand is a top priority, while 83% consider brand at least somewhat important (Morning Consult). Keeping your in-person car-buying experience up-to-par and including service information is a great way to ensure customer loyalty to your brand and to your dealership over online car retailers.
Although the presence of online car retailers such as Carvana rose during the pandemic, low supply and overspending dropped their stocks by 90% from November 2021 to May 2022 (CNBC). The trend of online car retailers is declining as we come out of the pandemic, which bodes well for dealerships – as long as they can continue to provide an omni-channel experience for their customers by offering both online and in-person shopping experiences.
This omni-channel experience translates over to service departments as well. Customers want to be able to research a dealership and the services their vehicles need online while also being able to bring their car in and learn more in the service lane. Ensure your service department stays in line with current trends by offering online information to supplement your in-person services with help from FIXED OPS DIGITAL®.