Shift Your Digital Retail Strategy Into the Self-Service Era

Steer buyers much closer to “yes” before they walk on to your showroom floor

It used to be that Black Friday was the biggest shopping day of the year, but now consumers actually adore Mondays, as long as they’re followed by the word “cyber.”

Recent statistics show that in-store retail shopping dropped 4% from last year, while online sales rose 18% over the same period. Cyber Monday 2017 posted the largest-ever single day of online sales.

These are sobering figures. The shift in consumer shopping habits means your dealership has to shift your digital retail strategy into overdrive.

But, with the right tools, you can satisfy the frenzied online public, while steering vehicle buyers much closer to “yes” before they walk through your doors.

Digital retail rules

It’s no longer viable to be low-tech. You’re entirely aware of the fact that you must have a web presence. But how responsive is your website to consumer demands?

For example, many customers prefer to begin the buying process online, like filling out a credit application at home, which can be beneficial to all parties involved. If there is a credit issue, you won’t be the middleman relaying information between customers and the finance source.

Plus, the buyer escapes the embarrassment of a not-so-stellar credit record being seen by prying eyes. Consumers can determine these findings from the privacy of their own home.

When you ramp up your online presence with digital retail tools that provide consumers with a secure place to shop, you can seamlessly transition online browsing and completed credit applications into an in-store buying experience that is pleasant for everyone.

Then you can add a cherry on top with a mobile point-of-sale app that includes e-signing capabilities. With the right tools, handling the shift in consumer behavior becomes easier to manage.

The self-service culture

We’ve entered the age of “I want to do it myself.” When given a chance, 85% to 90% of grocery shoppers prefer the self-serve checkout line, a statistic that encompasses all age groups.

But that doesn’t mean food shops will become automated ghost towns. You can’t buy a six-pack or a bottle of wine without assistance because age must be verified when a customer purchases alcohol.

These are compliance matters a grocery store has to manage daily. The checkout process still needs employees to ensure the store runs smoothly at all times because somebody may have an issue with their credit card, a purchase price might ring up incorrectly, etc. There’s a wide assortment of tasks that require qualified staff be available during business hours.

In the same vein, buying a car is still about relationships. Customers need dealers and F&I personnel to help them navigate to the finish line.

When a consumer begins the buying process on your dealership’s website, they are ultimately buying the car from your store. Whether the sale starts from the “self-service line” on your website or not, the final transaction eventually ends up on your floor.

Control your digital strategy

Your dealership’s online presence should be able to reach everyone, from the tech-savvy to the tech-challenged.

By providing the ability to add customized parameters, you can supply the digital experience that consumers desire, while maintaining control of the process.

You can configure all of your online functionality and offer flexibility while maintaining transparency, and handling the outcome just as efficiently as if the process started in your showroom.

The right digital retail tools will elevate your advantages if they include capabilities like an embedded online credit application, the power to electronically sign remotely, and the ability to present aftermarket products that are individualized to each customer based on their input and lifestyle.

The proper tools can guide buyers closer to a “yes” and assist your F&I department into raising its production levels once the customer visits your store.

By allowing customers to handle part of the heavy lifting on their own, you take some administrative task off of your plate, carving out more time to build better relationships.

Amanda George is the vice president of strategy for RouteOne, a joint venture created by Ally Financial, Ford Motor Credit, TD Auto Finance, and Toyota Financial Services. She is responsible for managing product conception, development, and strategy. Prior to joining the company, George held various roles in the management consulting industry.

Amanda George


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