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Automotive Dealerships Need Compelling Digital Buying Journey, According To New Data From OSF Digital

This latest report makes a case for automotive dealers to optimize their websites to drive greater sales

OSF Digital, a leading provider of digital transformation services to companies worldwide, has released a new report titled: The OSF Digital 2022 U.S Automotive Dealership Ecommerce Benchmark Study. The report reveals that consumers want to complete car research online to get direct visibility into inventory at specific dealerships. It also indicates that consumers want the convenience of requesting a meeting to get a quote or book a test drive, and they want access to marketplaces of related products to help streamline their busy lives. Despite this need, many U.S. automotive dealers are behind and not providing online tactical, tangible, and pragmatic solutions to engage customers.

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“Customers are digital-first, and automotive dealerships need effective digital transformation,” said Gerard (Gerry) Szatvanyi, CEO of OSF Digital.  “Car buyers want consistency and speed. The good news is dealerships can now eliminate many consumer pain points they’ve heard for decades by providing an online portal to bring data together in one place which streamlines the process to help serve customers and drive sales.”

The State of Online Automotive Dealerships – Consumers are Digital-First:

The global pandemic accelerated the digitization of the auto buying journey for consumers. The report indicates that U.S. dealerships must provide a compelling digital buying journey to deliver what modern customers want, as 95% of vehicle buyers use digital sources of information and 83% of consumers want to shop online to save time before buying a car. Other key findings include:

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  • Automotive consumers visit an average of 4.2 websites in their purchasing process on multiple devices throughout their buying journey
  • More than 60% of auto consumers reported visiting a dealership or dealer website after watching a video of a vehicle they were considering
  • 79% of dealerships lack the critical driver of sales—search functionality that lets consumers find out if a particular dealer has the car they want in inventory
  • Only 5.5% of all dealerships had a 360-degree viewer feature, allowing buyers to see a vehicle from all angles,
  • The prevalence of website capabilities impacts auto sales at dealerships and the ease of finding those web capabilities

Business Challenges

The report also reveals that a lack of IT support is a common obstacle for dealerships. With a growth mindset, dealerships can find an ecommerce implementation partner to use simple out-of-the-box ecommerce solutions with a managed service option to ensure they don’t miss out or drain their resources. As dealerships rethink what a modern-day sales experience should include, the right ecommerce platform can unify data, simplify the product discovery journey, and offer self-service features to resell a car, schedule a test drive or make a dealership visit.

Opportunities for Growth

The study demonstrates an effective website for dealerships is critical to sales growth. The report shows how a dealership website serves as a significant portal of information for consumers to evaluate during their selection process, helping them narrow their considerations and identify key vehicle features and benefits. Well-designed aspects of website appearance, navigation, and speed enhance a shopper’s ability to locate content, ultimately driving traffic to showrooms. The report argues these aspects will continue to be necessary for dealerships to win in the overall strategy of reaching customers across multiple device types, including tablets and smartphones.

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