Online Buying: Best Practices for Capturing the At-Home Market

One of the biggest changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the dramatic shift to remote working by a large swath of workers. Millions of workers swapped their morning commute for a trip down the hall, and there’s no going back to the way things were for many companies. As we move forward in this new normal, many companies are trying to get employees back in the office, but a full return is unlikely. In fact, a Mercer Survey held in May of this year said that a blend of in-person and remote working is the preferred model for 70% of companies. With this switch, workers are looking to bring more than just the office home. We’ve entered a new age of remote shopping, and automotive buying is no exception.

Buying a car completely online is a fairly new concept. Go back a few years and shoppers could start the process online but it was fairly rare to go from shopper to owner without ever stepping foot in a dealership. These days, shoppers want to be able to buy everything online, including their car. Companies like Carvana and Vroom have jumped on this trend, with Carvana seeing a 37% increase in year-over-year sales in 2020. This trend isn’t going away anytime soon, so if you want to recapture this online market and compete with the big online sellers, there are a few steps you can take to maximize your online appeal.

Car Buying At Home Tips from TAAAThe first step is to consider just how remote you are willing or able to let your sales process go. Do you have the capability to value trades, process credit applications, finalize financing, and deliver vehicles without the customer ever going to the dealership? If so, then you’re already in a great spot. These kinds of services are exactly what these consumers are looking for. You should be looking for any way to streamline the online buying process and take your dealership to the customer. You can even bundle your online buying with vehicle purchase orders. With inventory shortages, many dealerships are relying on purchase orders to fulfill consumer demand, and the online buying process is a great way to push them. Customers can feel more in control, get exactly what they want, and you can deliver their vehicle once it arrives.

Once you have your process set, the next step is to brand your online sales program. Even if you have offered these services for years, packaging them together under a single program name will help boost customer awareness and engagement. The car buying process can be daunting for some shoppers, especially when they are on their own online, so branding it as simple, easy, and fast is a great way to overcome that apprehension. Many of our clients have had great success branding a 3-step process for online buying to show just how simple it can be. Once you have your program ironed out and branded, feature it prominently in your marketing. The more customers associate your dealership with the convenience of online buying, the more likely they are to choose you over a fully online brand like Carvana. This is especially important for your digital campaigns. We recommend running separate or integrated campaigns through Google, Facebook, and any other digital platform you’re utilizing. Digital campaigns are especially effective for online sales programs because there are very few barriers to go from shopper to buyer. The customer should be able to click on your ad, complete the sales process, and schedule their delivery without ever leaving their desk. That’s what the online buyer expects, and it’s what you need to deliver if you want to compete with other online storefronts.

Lucky for you, the Automotive Advertising Agency is here to help you streamline, brand, and market your online sales process. We’ve been at the forefront of digital sales marketing for years, and we’ll give you the expert direction you need to recapture the at-home market. Give us a call at 512-610-7300, or contact us at TheAutoAdAgency.com/contact/ for more information.

About the author

Michelle Camacho is the President of The Automotive Advertising Agency.