Automotive Companies Must Facilitate Digital Car Buying to Meet Customer Expectations and Stave Off Declining Sales
Staking out a digital presence is essential for automobile brands and dealers that hope to prosper in the face of declining year-over-year sales.
Following a year filled with grim predictions of a second consecutive annual decline in automobile sales, the final December sales figures closed the year on a high note, resulting in a 0.6% year-over-year increase that surprise many analysts. However, whether due to increasing trade pressures or rising interest rates, the encouraging end-of-the-year sales performance may simply be a happy anomaly ahead of an otherwise bleak outlook for the automotive industry, with consumer demand for automobiles expected to continue falling in 2019 and the years to follow.
In the face of such declining automobile sales, vehicle manufacturers face the unenviable position of attempting to lower production costs without sacrificing quality, all while finding a way to win customers from other brands in a highly competitive market. The automobile sellers that most successfully adapt to this new environment will go beyond the tried and true marketing tactics that have brought them success in the past.
Adding Digital to the Automotive Marketing Toolbox
During the industry-wide transition to digital accessibility, brands and dealers that opt to go the traditional route with paid advertisement slots with local television channels will lose out to those who provide the interactive digital shopping experience that modern consumers expect. In short, the days of relying on rebates and seasonal campaigns are ending, and exposure online is now required.
To keep up with the times, automotive sellers must strive to reach consumers directly through up-to-date and easy-to-access digital information streams in addition to such legacy advertising options as television and print media. To reach this new generation of internet-connected shoppers, companies must be able to offer a compelling digital car buying experience that brings the automobile industry up to speed with always-on internet connectivity and real-time updates.
The Rise of Mobile E-Commerce
It is no surprise that those accustomed to 1-Click Ordering and next-day shipping Amazon are looking for a more robust digital shopping experience. In addition to simply having a presence online, such platforms must be accessible on the go, as over sixty percent of e-commerce sales are currently completed on mobile devices.
Mobile apps developed by Amazon and eBay demonstrate that streamlined and intuitive shopping experiences are possible from a smart device. As a result, consumers today need the ability to browse products and compare specifications quickly and from anywhere, whether lounging at home or commuting to work by train.
Embracing the Mobile Car Buying Revolution
Automobile dealerships must adapt to the new generation of customers that prefers browsing products online rather than in-store.
The turns towards mobile car buying also brings a fundamental change in how customers approach purchasing their vehicles. No longer having to physically visit a dealership and hope to find a car and financing deal that works for them, mobile customers will turn to online sources of information to filter through all of the options available at their fingertips.
For instance, it has been known for some time that YouTube videos have significant value for digital shoppers, with as many as 70% of automobile shoppers who watched YouTube videos citing that the videos they watched influenced their purchasing decisions. Such videos may highlight features and options, show test drives, or simply allow viewers to view a vehicle walk-through without making the trip to a dealer themselves.
There is also a growing demand for speciality mobile car buying platforms. For example, the AutoMotion app provides customers the ability to discretely compare dealer prices through an intuitive and user-friendly digital shopping platform. Prospective customers can easily filter through millions of results by vehicle type, price, and desired purchasing model, such as buying, leasing or subscribing. With over one million users on AutoMotion alone, it is vital for dealerships to have a presence on such digital platforms to make sure they are being seen by today’s mobile-savvy customers.
In the face of declining sales on the horizon, automotive companies will have to adjust to the new era of digital shopping or fall behind. Properly instituting an integrated digital marketing strategy is not a simple task, but the automotive industry has overcome challenges in the past and should have no trouble doing so once again.
The brands and dealers that successfully make the jump to digital will benefit from increasing their online presence, especially in the mobile shopping space. The early movers are already gaining pole position in the smartphones and minds of 21st century consumers, but it is not too late for the less technologically-oriented companies to get started. After all, those sellers that anticipate and stay on top of the inevitable shift will be the best equipped to lead the industry forward into the next generation.