Each new year brings renewed hope and goals, not only in personal lives but in business as well. In 2012, dealers will be taking a look at the following trends that will have a lasting impact on their overall business.
Mobile. Nielsen reports that 54% of the U.S. population aged 18-44 has a smartphone. With more than half of the buying population actively accessing the Internet and apps on their smartphones, it’s a good move for dealers to have a plan in place to reach those customers in 2012.
Recently, comScore reported that 38% of smartphone owners have used their phone to make a purchase at least once, and 13% have used it to make an automotive-related purchase. That number is only projected to increase as consumers become more comfortable with mobile purchasing, just as they quickly adopted online purchasing.
Retailers, the service industry and automakers are experimenting with ways to attract, engage and move consumers to action through mobile. Many of these businesses are using texting and QR codes as a way to connect with shoppers. According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Automotive Mobile Site Study, 59% of vehicle shoppers have used, scanned or taken a picture of a QR code or barcode for products or services.
Just as business owners were skeptical that individuals would make major purchases online, the same can be said for mobile. However, those consumers who have experience with online purchasing are more likely to acclimate to mobile purchasing, especially as a means to convenience.
As of November 2011, more than 127,000 auto parts and accessories, and 2,800 vehicles are sold every week globally via eBay mobile applications.
Local. Even though consumers may be searching and shopping with mobile devices, they still use those devices to find local businesses. Consumers are acting on impulse buys while they are on the go, and being found as a local option can increase foot traffic and sales.
Now, consumers who find something online may want to immediately seek it out at a nearby location to “kick the tires” and confirm a purchase decision. Also, shoppers who design their vehicles with the features they want included also want to be able to “find it nearby” once they decide on what they want to purchase.
Mobile apps allow consumers to read reviews, find photos, compare prices and find out what’s in stock nearby. If your dealership does not come up on these searches, you could be losing out on sales.
Bundling parts and services. Just as “Do you want fries with that?” worked for the restaurant industry, asking a shopper if they want a related service when they purchase a part can lead to an increased stream of revenue. Bundling parts and services together online can be a win for both the seller and the customer. Instead of leaving money on the table, auto dealers need to think service with parts and provide additional offers to the customer.
Online parts sales are a huge opportunity as online inventory has not caught up to the buyer demand. More than 56 million people have shopped online for an auto part in the past 12 months. Offering services along with parts online can provide additional showroom traffic and increased customer engagement so the dealership is top of mind when it comes time to purchase a new vehicle.
The new year will bring about several changes in the automotive industry. Social media will continue to play an important part with customer relationships, and moving those relationships through mobile and local can help build the dealership’s virtual brand.