FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. — A new auto dealership survey from eLEND Solutions offers a good news/bad news scenario for the future of digital retailing: dealers overwhelmingly say they are progressive and willing to adopt more digital retailing tools (84%), yet the majority define digital retailing as posting inventory and report that more than 50% of their process continues to be manual/paper-based.
The snapshot survey, conducted among dealerships nationwide in August 2017, clearly illustrates that dealers are interested in a progressive, customer-focused, digital approach to retailing. For example, dealers overwhelmingly agreed with the statement: “Sell the car the way the customer wants to buy it by letting shoppers start and stop when & where they want. Online or instore.”
But the actual process and tools implementation lags significantly behind this progressive intent. The dealers surveyed cited customer service as their key dealership differentiator and believe a digital retail strategy is key to the shorter transaction times that they aspire to: Ninety percent want it to be under two hours, but fewer than half are achieving that.
“One thing that remains consistent over the years, as we survey dealerships, is the disconnect between the progressive, streamlined digital process dealers say they want to offer and their ability to deliver it,” said Pete MacInnis, CEO of eLEND Solutions. “Customers’ expectations are passing beyond dealerships’ ability to deliver on those expectations. … The dealership ‘will’ is there — they overwhelmingly want a solution that connects the online and offline dots — but the ‘wherefore’ has yet to arrive. The good news is that the solution is definitely on its way.”
Key highlights of the survey include:
- Customer service was cited as the top dealership differentiator.
- More than two-thirds (68%) say the top benefit of digital retailing is shorter transaction times.
- Dealers overwhelmingly (93%) agree with the idea that their website operates as a digital showroom, but most define digital retailing as listing inventory versus actually allowing more of the deal to be initiated online or in-store app/web based smartphone/tablet technologies.
- While 84% plan to adopt more digital retailing tools, the majority (70%) are opting for an incremental approach.
- Reluctance to change and cost are cited as top barriers to adopting more tools: Less than 20% are opposed to adoption.
- Online digital retailing tools connected with the instore sales process was the top choice for nearly 70% of dealers.
- Sixty percent say that if they could add more tools to make their websites more transactional, they would.
For more information, visit elendsolutions.com.