No matter how much the technological revolution continues to fling every industry into the online realm, car dealerships seem to remain grounded in their traditional ways. Yes, they have their websites, and yes, experienced car dealers invest in billboards as much as they invest in social media, SEM, and SEO to get adequate brand exposure, but how many dealers do you know that sell cars exclusively online? Usually, the online presentation serves to drive foot traffic to the dealership, and that’s perfectly fine and a solid marketing strategy.
However, in recent years, forward-looking entrepreneurs have begun exploring the idea of selling cars through online portals. It’s one of those trends that are disrupting the automotive industry, and it could help you minimize financial expenditure across the board while opening your brand to the global community with the rise of B2B Ecommerce as well. With that in mind, here are the 5 tips on how to start a successful car dealership in the online world.
Build a trustworthy brand
In the car dealership sector, it’s all about the brand and its reputation. People will come to your store based on the recommendations they gather from their friends and family members, and they will scour the web for positive reviews before they decide to pay you a visit – which is why you better make sure that your brand enjoys a stellar reputation. This goes for online brands as well, as word of mouth marketing becomes increasingly important for social proof and lead generation.
And this is exactly why you need to create a strong brand identity from the get-go, if you are to capture the attention of your demographic, evoke the right emotions, and develop your unique competitive advantage. Remember, people will gladly pay top dollar to the brands they trust, so instead of trying to surpass your competition by slashing your prices, you should work on building a trustworthy brand. Create a set of values that correspond with the values of your audience, develop a unique tone of voice, and make sure that your visual identity is striking enough to elicit a positive emotional response.
Update inventory and descriptions
What you’re basically launching is an Ecommerce store that sells cars, and like any online store (and offline, for that matter), you need to make sure that the information on your site is updated regularly, and that the pictures of your products portray the true current look of every vehicle – otherwise, your customers will be very disappointed once they pick up or receive their products. Sometimes, though, tracking inventory can be a difficult task.
Be sure to leverage modern inventory management technology in order to automate all processes associated with inventory management and keep the info on your site up to date. Likewise, make sure that all of the vehicle descriptions are detailed, and that they leave no room for guesswork – if the potential customer is unsure about something, they’ll either call you, or leave your site for good. The descriptions for every vehicle should be carefully laid out, preferably in bullet points.
Choose the right Ecommerce platform
One of the most important elements of a successful online dealership is, of course, the platform itself. Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business and developing your online car dealership with the help of experienced professionals will mean the difference between a quick rise to the top and a quick demise of your brand, so spare no expense on developing your store. The site needs to enjoy a clear and well-rounded structure, with seamless navigation, lighting-fast speed and responsiveness, and a transparent shopping process.
If you want potential customers to actually whip out their credit cards and order vehicles from your store, you’ll need to assure them that their purchase is safe, as described on your site, and that they will get their money back if the product is subpar. Be sure to display all of your store’s certifications on cybersecurity, warranty, delivery, handling, returns, and more to appeal to the modern shopper.
Invest heavily in digital marketing
To make it in the online world, you need to market your brand. It doesn’t really matter if you want to sell cars in your local state, to the whole country, or internationally, you need to invest heavily in various digital marketing tactics in order to raise brand awareness and trust, and bring people to your store. Be sure to read up on digital retailing content in order to gain a better understanding of your audience and the online retailing industry. This will help you tailor your content strategy and weave your brand’s identity into every marketing method you employ.
Offer stellar customer service
And lastly, be prepared for a lot of phone calls, emails, and direct messages. Buying a car is a big deal, and people will want to get in touch with you in order to ask every question that comes to mind before they make the decision to buy. Make sure your customer service agents are up to the task, and consider introducing a chatbot into the process when you start to experience a drastic rise in website traffic.
Over to you
Launching an online car dealership is a good way to take a traditionally offline business into the 21st century, and doing so can minimize your capital investment, upkeep, and overheads significantly. However, be sure to implement these insights in order to build your competitive advantage from the start, and future-proof your online business in an overly-competitive industry.