How Mobile Apps Can Improve Revenue for Dealerships

Buyers who use a dealership-branded app are 73% more likely to buy a car from that store

One of the exciting aspects of working in the automotive industry is the ability to sell the latest and greatest vehicle models each year. Auto dealerships know better than most that innovation is at the heart of their industry.

The same is true of mobile apps, and utilizing the latest in mobile app technology is a great way for the auto industry to improve revenues. Here are a few key ways dealers can increase revenue after embracing the possibilities of a dealership-branded mobile app.

Knowledge is power

Smartphones are with the average consumer at nearly all times, and this level of immediacy has turned these devices into potent consumer research tools. When consumers look to make a purchase, they’ll turn to their smartphone to conduct product research online, often using their trusted apps.

This truth applies to the auto industry as well. A study conducted through IHS Automotive provides fascinating insights into the modern car buyer’s path to a purchase.

The study found that 88% of customers use the internet to shop for a car, and a 2014 DMEautomotive study highlighted that auto buyers who used a branded app were 73% more likely to buy a car from that dealership.

These two studies, taken in tandem, highlight two simple realities of modern car buyers:

  1. They are overwhelmingly using the internet, smartphones, and apps to research a vehicle purchase.
  2. Getting customers to research on a dealership’s branded app facilitates purchases that lead to increased revenue.

The best way to enjoy these results is to provide mobile shoppers with valuable information. In a wide range of studies, auto customers frequently mention that relevant and convenient information during the research process compels them to visit an auto dealership.

This means the dealership needs to provide a wide range of content related to almost every aspect of the car-buying process, including:

  • Pricing details
  • Payment options
  • Dealer information
  • Vehicle comparison tools
  • High-quality photos
  • Enhanced search tools for browsing listings

Apps cultivate long-term loyalty

For auto dealers, the best customers are long-term ones who remain loyal to their preferred dealership. Research shows that mobile apps help cultivate the connections needed to create a relationship with this kind of auto buyer.

A recent study conducted by Placed Inc. and found that apps play a prominent role in getting a customer to make an in-person dealership visit. In fact, mobile shoppers were found to be 72% more likely to visit dealerships compared to auto shoppers who do not use their smartphone.

The customers who will return for repeat visits are the ones who drive revenue for any business long term. For dealers, it’s clear that mobile auto shoppers are the ideal long-term target audience.

Of course, helping dealers make the initial sale is one thing, but apps can also be used to bolster other long-term aspects of vehicle ownership. Any consumer who buys a vehicle from a dealership will need regular service of that vehicle.

Apps that promote the dealership’s service department, then, help create a sustainable business model that keeps the consumer loyal and engaged with the dealer. Mobile apps can help dealerships generate additional revenue through their service department by providing convenient, quality information and functions via the app.

The app should make it easy for customers to solve all of their repair and servicing needs through one convenient platform. This includes functionality such as viewing the dealership’s service hours, as well as the ability to book appointments and pay for repairs.

Modern consumers expect to use the internet and mobile technology to make their lives easier. Auto dealerships that create branded shopping and/or service apps best cater to these expectations.

Operating a successful auto dealership requires lasting customer relationships, and modern customers demand a compelling app experience. By necessity, savvy dealers must meet these consumer demands in order to enjoy sustained success in the modern mobile landscape.

Chris Pautsch is founder and CEO KeyLimeTie, a full-service design, development, and digital strategy agency, helping clients communicate more effectively and intimately with their customers through interactive marketing channels.

Chris Pautsch

1 Comment

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    John F Possumato February 19, 2017

    I couldn’t agree more… I would only add that you can also include strategic geo-fencing capabilities to the dealers toolbox, through the app, and now you have a dynamite customer retention tool.


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