online and offline car shopping

The Keys to Bringing Online and Offline Car Shopping Together

Years ago, when consumers wanted to shop for a new car, they’d visit one auto dealership after another, talking with salespeople and seeing where they could get the best price. The growth of the internet has changed the entire industry, as consumers can now engage in both online and offline car shopping.

In the past, salespeople would determine a vehicle’s price and consumers had very few ways to check the veracity of those prices. With the internet, people gained access to resources such as the Kelley Blue Book in order to do their own research into a vehicle’s value. Over time, many customers have begun to feel distrustful of auto dealerships and salespeople after showing up to shop for a car with one price in mind and leaving feeling frustrated when they’re given a much higher dollar amount. This has given rise to digital disruptors such as Carvana that appeal to customers with a “skip the salesperson and pay the real value” marketing spiel.

Bringing Online and Offline Car Shopping Together By Leveraging the Kelley Blue Book Brand

The automobile purchasing experience doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor where the customer must choose between online and offline car shopping. If dealerships work to leverage the trust consumers have in the Kelley Blue Book Brand, they can provide pricing transparency paired with a value proposition that online vehicle sales sites simply can’t offer.

According to digital marketing agency Adtaxi, approximately 86 percent of people do online research before they head out to buy a car. This is why it’s important that auto dealerships use the same tools their customers are using to arrive at a fair price. Using the resources that customers are using helps inject trust and transparency into interactions with dealerships.

This helps address the main reason that customers turn to online car sales sites. When comparing online and offline car shopping, however, dealerships can offer something that their online competitors simply can’t offer: a real person to stand behind the vehicle purchase.

Why the Human Touch Matters

Everyone talks about  a streamlined car-buying experience that saves them money. I’m growing tired of hearing about “digital disruptors” like Carvana and other online vehicle sale platforms. Franchised Auto Dealerships can provide the same offer with just a few changes to their websites. I will also challenge that a local dealer can do it much much better, while at the same time providing service after the sale and support to their local communities. When auto dealerships compete with online vehicle sales sites to provide this, the next step is for them to demonstrate the human touch that’s lacking when you purchase a vehicle through a website.

What does this mean? For one, it means customers purchasing a vehicle from an actual person who’s available to answer the inevitable questions that will arise in the first days and weeks of driving it. More importantly, however, it means purchasing from a company that will stand behind its product and help a customer maintain their vehicle and keep it running the entire time they own it.

This starts with a complimentary certified maintenance package on every vehicle sold. This helps ensure that every customer can easily keep their vehicle in top-notch shape at no cost for the first few years of ownership. It also means delivering a high-quality experience when a customer comes in for warranty repairs, from offering loaner cars as a convenience so customers don’t have to sit and wait to providing a comfortable lounge with complimentary snacks and drinks for customers who do need to wait for quick repairs or maintenance to be completed.

All of this builds into creating customer trust and loyalty that will bring them back when the free maintenance and warranty ends — and eventually, when it’s time for a new vehicle. In this increasingly digital age we’re in, people still value doing business with other people, especially when it comes to large purchases like a vehicle. When it comes to online and offline car shopping, let them start their research online, but make sure your dealership can build the trust necessary not just for this sale, but for many sales to come in the future.