5 Strategies to Improve UX at Your Dealership

What does a great user experience really mean, and how can your dealership use it to stand out?


User experience (UX) is more important than ever: 80% of today’s shoppers would pay more for a better experience. More than half of car shoppers would choose a dealership with a great experience even with higher prices.

And by 2020, experience is expected to become the most important factor for shoppers choosing where to do business.

So it’s not surprising that everyone is talking about UX—but usually, the term is defined too narrowly for today’s market. What does great UX really mean, and how can your dealership use it to stand out?

Across the entire shopping journey

People typically use the term UX to describe the experience of using a digital product, such as your website: how easy it is to navigate, how enjoyable, how intuitive.

This is a crucial aspect—great website UX can increase conversion rates by 400%.

But when we think about UX, the real key is to go beyond the website. Today’s shoppers move online and offline throughout their journey, so a sharp distinction between on-site UX and the overall customer experience makes little sense.

Consider these two scenarios:

  1. Carla has a great experience on your website, easily navigating it, scrolling through VDPs, and converting on an e-price call to action (CTA). Then, during the follow-up call, your representative gets her name wrong, asks what model she’s looking for when Carla already indicated it in her conversion form, and is overly vague about pricing.Carla is now frustrated, even though the website UX was excellent.
  2. Steve, an early stage shopper, passes by your store one Saturday, wanders in, and enjoys browsing and asking staff a few initial questions. Then he goes home to continue the process online, but finds that the inventory on your website doesn’t match what he saw in-store, VDPs are organized poorly, and the trade-in tool is so long he gives up in the middle.Steve’s in-store UX was great but the transition to online didn’t hold up.

The key to great UX is to figure out what your customers want to achieve at every step of their journey—online, offline, and everywhere in between—and help them achieve it with consistency.

Keep these five specific strategies in mind to improve your UX:

1. Can you accomplish goals on your site?

Every visitor to your website has goals. Put yourself in their shoes and see if you can accomplish them.

For example, say you’re browsing inventory on the bus on the way to work. Can you navigate easily between pages on mobile? Are specs, availability, and pricing easily accessible?

See if this visitor can actually accomplish the goal of researching their next purchase.

Or imagine a customer who is looking for your address. How many clicks does it take to find it? It sounds simple, but 51% of shoppers report that contact information is the most crucial missing information on company sites.

Imagine five different journeys and then take them, noting any roadblocks. Then, smooth them out so the experience of using your site is as easy and intuitive as possible.

2. Watch customers’ behavior on your site

In addition to experiencing your website for yourself, follow user behavior on your website using heatmapping and mouse-tracking tools. See how shoppers are scrolling, note which links and CTAs they click, and which conversion tools engage them and which they close immediately.

Knowing what customer navigation paths actually look like tells you where your site is most engaging, and where it can improve.

3. Experience the conversion tools for yourself

When it comes to conversion tools, you want to track performance and ROI. But take it a step further and really understand the experience of using these tools.

Note how quickly they appear and how much content they block. Consider how they interact with each other—whether they blend well visually, or whether they compete for attention.

Also, analyze whether conversion tools encourage or discourage repeat conversions—for example, a customer may convert on an e-price and then decide to value their trade. Are they asked for the same information twice? Is there communication between tools?

Really understanding the experience of using conversion tools is a great way to improve UX.

4. Connect data for seamless online and offline transitions

Any information your customers provide—whether on-site behavior, contact info, conversions, or preferences communicated in person—must be accessible for subsequent interactions.

When your staff calls customers, don’t ask for information that’s already been provided. Salespeople in the store should know about every previous touch point, and post-sale follow-up should take into account all the details about this shopper.

Keeping this customer data accessible smoothes transitions between online and offline for a much better experience.

5. Design your store with UX in mind

Your physical dealership, just like your website, needs to be a place where customers can accomplish goals without friction.

A large, branded entrance sign and inviting reception desk smooth the process by showing customers where to go, and also reassure them that your dealership is organized.

A waiting area with comfortable chairs, a TV and magazines, high-quality coffee and snacks, and toys for children make waiting pleasant.

Kick it up a notch with signs for your Wi-Fi password and plenty of electrical outlets. Consider placing tablets open to your website around your showroom so shoppers can research specs on their own.

These little touches assist your shoppers and demonstrate that you want to help them—which encourages trust and loyalty.


Buying a car can be overwhelming. By providing a seamless and consistent user experience both online and offline, your dealership can make it not only manageable, but enjoyable.

Understanding what your customers are trying to do and helping them accomplish their goals means your dealership can set itself apart, earn trust, and win more business.

Alexandra Joseph is a designer-turned-product manager, fascinated with harnessing emerging technologies and designing unique customer experiences. She works on developing and perfecting AutoLeadStar’s products to help dealerships deliver value on their websites.

Alexandra Joseph

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