As dealers gear up for the holiday shopping season, many will advertise Black Friday sales. Few, however, will promote specials for Cyber Monday, as they lack the ability to complete car sales online. For dealerships using Drive Motors’ online check-out platform, the Silicon Valley startup is helping market and promote Cyber Monday deals.
Aaron Krane, founder and CEO of Drive Motors, said that this is the first year that vehicles will officially be entering the Cyber Monday market, as multiple ecommerce platforms, including his own, have been adopted by dealerships across the country.
“I think for one of the first times ever we’re going to see dealer commerce uptick, not just on Black Friday, but also on Cyber Monday,” he said.
Drive Motors is helping its partners prepare by giving them a variety of marketing and promotional tactics and materials focused on ecommerce. The company has created ads, banners, and even videos for dealer partners to use for their promotions.
Last Black Friday, Krane said that car volume orders through Drive Motors platform, which is hosted on each dealer client’s website, spiked 56%. It was also one of the first days the tech startup claimed at least one sale per hour throughout the day.
“That was really interesting to observe,” Krane said. “A lot of customers were walking in for a Black Friday promotion; they were leaving without buying, but they were coming back that night and they were buying through online checkouts.”
Based on current platform rates, Krane said he expects two to three vehicles ordered per hour during Cyber Monday. Currently, Drive Motors averages more than 1,000 orders a month. Krane said that around 50% of online orders still come to the dealership in order to see and test drive the vehicle before purchasing it online later. The numbers, he said, reflect a larger trend of young, informed buyers who do not want to sit in a finance manager’s office.
“If we take off our automotive hats and put on our buyer hats, it’s a no-brainer,” Krane said. “We do not need salespeople to pressure us into buying, and if we can get the best of a showroom without the sales pressure, we will close and upsell ourselves — and make dealerships more money than if they tried to close us.”
After going over online purchases with a Drive Motors dealer partner in Virginia, Krane said they discovered a 70% sale conversion rate from online checkouts. He attributed the rate partially to the weather: As it gets colder and bad weather keeps people indoors, they choose to purchase new vehicles online, rather than waiting for a break in the weather to go to the physical dealership.
Online orders through Drive Motors platform have also increased profits, mainly in the F&I category, for most dealers. Krane said that for consumers, being able to see F&I offerings at home while browsing for cars increases the chances they will upsell themselves.
He said that this past year, his group has seen a profit increase between $500 and $700 per sale.
“People are more willing to upsell themselves if they're couching their own deal in their comfort zone at home,” he said. “Even if they don't purchase upgrades at that moment … they still learn about them in the checkout flow, which makes them much more open-minded when they are then offered it at the dealership. And so properly executed online checkouts which creates enough buyer trust should actually generate an additional upsell opportunity that wasn't there before.”
Krane predicted that for 2018, dealerships that embrace ecommerce early on will become known as the ecommerce dealership of their region, a move that will end up pressuring manufactures to sell their cars directly online too.
He also said he believes that top-level car sales will increase, rather than continuing to plateau, and that dealerships will start consolidating.
“We've seen 70 store groups for the first time ever create centralized command centers and centralized business development,” Krane said. “And it's both more streamlined, it's cheaper, and it's a better, more consistent customer experience. So not only do we predict that's going to increase, but we're taking it upon ourselves to become the foremost authority in helping dealers do that.”