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Digital Engagement: The Future of Automotive Shopping

Future of Automotive

If we’ve learned anything about connecting with customers and driving revenue, it’s all about digital engagement. And the core driver of digital engagement? Digital merchandising. 

Vehicle shopping is high-intent and high-price. Shoppers spend a substantial amount of time researching and ensuring they make the right purchase. Naturally, they require considerable support throughout their buying journey. 

The Road to Revenue is Paved With Intention

Putting intention behind merchandising leads to increased sales and profits. Dealerships can create high-intent shopping touchpoints throughout the purchasing journey. A smooth shopping experience is an enormous positive influence, leading to more engaged and satisfied customers, increased loyalty, better brand recognition, and faster inventory turnover. Automotive merchandising is highly specialized, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Dealerships can successfully implement influential digital merchandising by designing strategies that delight and positively engage the shopper. 

Engage with Shoppers and Earn Customers

A shopper’s online engagement is a key indicator of their buying intent. Dealerships can leverage that information and create customized, seamless buying experiences that engage. 

Interactive digital merchandising, appealing imaging, and insightful customer data activation are the chief enablers of exceptionally engaging experiences. When properly applied, these solutions accelerate the conversion and purchase results of every dealership touchpoint, from the website and VDPs to phone conversations and the physical showroom.

Not Your Grandma’s Car-Buying Experience

We all know the days of first visiting a dealership to decide which car a consumer is interested in, or even swiping through stock photography online, are over. Effective inventory imaging is foundational to great merchandising. Images must be current, clean, and consistent. To create a uniform website experience, vehicle retailers should ensure 100% photo coverage of all available inventory with high-quality VIN-specific imagery, using repeatable processes and technology to help scale image capture. Additional imaging solutions, such as background editing and damage tagging, can further enhance inventory presentation and image quality, increasing shopper trust and confidence.   

Merch It, Explore It, Click It, Watch It, Bop It — Engage With It

Successful digital merchandising encourages shoppers to explore features online without visiting the dealership. An awesome merchandising experience should be engaging, interactive, and customized to the shopper’s needs. Consumers respond well to multimedia solutions: think videos, clickable high-quality WalkArounds of the vehicle’s interior and exterior, and transparent damage tagging they can review from the comfort of their computers or phones. Software solutions can deliver VIN-specific multimedia feature showcases of every vehicle on a dealer’s lot — instead of long, boring, and cluttered feature lists that quickly turn into a page that looks like an alphabet acronym soup. The goal is to keep shoppers on your dealership’s website with all of the information they need instead of clicking away to conduct research. 

 Love — and First-Hand Shopper Data — Will Keep Us Together

Consumers spend a lot of time online — some weekly estimates range as high as 760 minutes on social media alone (ComScore, 2017). First-hand data based on shopper behavior is key to personalizing the buying experience and increasing conversions. With the right digital engagement platform, dealerships can scale data-driven personalization across the board — even post-purchase. The AI mines the DMS and, based on the dealership’s preferences, can send email and SMS text communications that are timely and relevant based on the season or their ownership lifecycle. 

These communications engage with vehicle owners through the ownership lifecycle, from First Service to Next Service, Annual Inspections, Warranty Expirations, and more. 
Image suggestion: visual from FIP that talks about “now that winter is upon us, good time to consider mats” or something similar.

Scale at Any Size, at Any Time

Auto retailers can harness the power of the omnichannel experience to effectively educate shoppers on the end-to-end value the dealership can provide, from sales to service, long before the customer even sets foot in the physical showroom. The power of digital merchandising allows dealerships to meet customers online, create increasingly personalized experiences based on data from the first interaction, and provide customized engagements throughout the shopping journey previously available only in person. 

The future of automotive shopping is digital engagement. Learn more by scheduling a demo today