It’s been previously well-documented in these pages how dealers have joined the ranks of firms advertising online. The benefits of dealerships placing ads that show up at the top of searches on engines like Google, Bing, and more are clear. But success has spoiled your customers. They’re getting wiser and they’re getting more demanding. And unless you’re thinking of how to meet those demands, you not only run the risk of falling back with the pack, you run the risk of falling behind those who will.
Increasingly, customers have grown to rely on online searches to help them find the product they’re seeking, and the dealers who have it. As they’ve done so, they’ve gotten smarter; they’re no longer merely seeking who carries a particular car or part, they’re narrowing it down to the specific SKU. Whether you carry it isn’t good enough…they want to know if you have it in stock.
Taking that one step further, if their search reveals you have the part, but it turns out you don’t have the inventory available, you’ll disappoint them. And if you know anything about internet-savvy shoppers, you know a shopper once disappointed is not likely to return.
This is why an increasing number of vendors, in the automotive and other vertical markets, are moving to inventory-driven search. They’ve found it to be a way of communicating with their customers about what they have, ready to go, to meet their immediate demands.
It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do. For openers, it requires you to integrate your supply chain inventory system with your online presence, especially in your ads. It can be a daunting task if you try to do it yourself; obviously, there are vendors who can assist you in the process and manage it for you as you move forward.
The advantages are clear, however. Inventory-driven search technology is increasingly being used to interact with shoppers who perform “long-tail” searches. They already know what they want, and they know the part number or SKU, so they quickly hone in on vendors who have it in stock. Vendors who integrate their supply chain and online marketing systems can speak directly to those customers, creating more specific ads that target their needs.
Here’s the payoff—more specific ads tend to convert to sales more often than non-specific ads. There are three reasons why:
1. You’re able to establish a stronger connection between what your prospect types in the search field and what you’re selling.
2. Customers who type in more information are more ready to buy immediately; it’s a “window shopping versus specific intent” kind of thing.
3. The majority of generated revenue comes from product or company-based keyword searches. Less than one-third comes from category search. So, the more specific you can make your results, the better.
The other side of this is if you’re out of stock, the integrated system will automatically pull your ad. Remember, if you say you have something in stock and you don’t, it’s an almost-guaranteed recipe for losing customers for the long term.
What’s more, “long-tail” searches are actually less expensive than broader terms, and tend to be higher converting. Integrating those searches with a system that provides real-time status on your inventory can significantly enhance your standing as a trusted vendor with your online shoppers.
Make no mistake: there are more and more online shoppers every single day. Your competition knows this as well. The companies that quickly move to understand their needs and deliver what they want will win the sale…and will win their trust.
Link Walls is director of product management at ChannelAdvisor, a global e-commerce platform provider that helps retailers sell more online through channels such as marketplaces, paid search, and comparison shopping, and with web-stores and rich media solutions. For more information, please email [email protected].
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