Dealers need to up their game in multi-channel retailing

harris shaun

Motor retailers need to up their efforts to create a more mobile-friendly shopping experience if they are to unlock their share of a potential £7.8 billion in additional sales this year, according to financial technology specialists Codeweavers.

“Technically, poorly optimised mobile websites remain a frequent problem across our industry, but more than this it is delivering a memorable and distinctive customer impact that stands out as the opportunity to be filled,” sales director Shaun Harris said.

“The risk is that new entrants will fill this void and we already see this take place. Rather than the traditional ‘product push’ that dominates most automotive websites, I believe dealers need to focus more upon the customer experience with a ‘process’ led approach,” he warned.

Harris points to the strategies adopted by other big-name online retailers with their fresh, topical and engaging content and capacity to present added value and complementary services during the browsing experience as the way ahead. He feels that dealers need to work harder at differentiating their digital presence to make it memorable and more engaging.

“We need to embrace the fundamentals of marketing to grab the attention and interest of customers; success will be earned those who win hearts and minds and make the experience of buying and owning an absolute pleasure; much of this now starts and is often maintained online” he noted.

While recognising that corporate visual identity priorities are a key area for franchised dealers, Harris believes there is scope to work with these at a dealer level to create an impact that is distinctive and talks prominently to the customer around key buying and ownership experience.

Originality in tone and content can help add real value to a dealer’s presence and are as important as how it is delivered, he advised. Areas such as dealer personality and ethos, affordability and aftersales support are other areas that could be developed, speaking to the acquisition and ownership needs of the customer.

As well as imaginative web presence, this same principle needs to carry through into a dealer’s social media presence. Creating interesting content and encourage customer interaction are key to building up the brand.

“It’s all about being talked about for the right reasons. Ultimately this will help drive online traffic – again the leap from mobile social media to mobile website is a more natural one,” Harris said.

Another area that Harris feels can be developed today is the capacity for technology to target customers anywhere, anytime, anyplace. This technology is now widely used in other areas of retailing and dealers need to get on-board.

Harris said: “An integrated multi-channel strategy that embraces new technologies such as beacons and mobile payment opportunities can be used to create platforms for dealers to engage with customers while they are on the go or in the showroom and used to create upsell opportunities for added value products and aftersales work as well as for selling cars.

“If dealers need a compelling argument for such approaches, in core retailing, 43% of consumers would spend more in mobile friendly stores that offer services such as mobile payments, loyalty programme, reservations, product availability checks, and location-based promotions. We should want some of that!”