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Efficient Solutions Help Close Gaps in Consumers’ Car Shopping Experience

As hard as it may be to believe, it’s already been more than 10 years since the dawn of the Internet era. Over the course of the last decade, the Internet has changed the way we research companies and products; seek information and entertainment; socialize with friends, strangers and peers; and, of course, it has changed the way we conduct business. In particular, the Internet has spotlighted the limitations of the old-fashioned “traditional” media, while accentuating the Web’s value to provide consumers with quick, real-time information they can access on demand.

As the Internet has changed, AutoTrader.com has evolved in many ways to better meet the basic needs of consumers and the way they shop for cars. In fact, some of the newest features on our site were developed based on valuable customer feedback. These new features help consumers "close the gaps” that still exist in the car shopping process—gaps that people say make the car shopping experience either difficult or inconvenient. Whenever we can close one of these gaps for consumers, we improve the chances a buyer will want to visit your store, so closing a gap for consumers actually means creating more selling opportunities for our dealers.

Over the last few years, consumers have increasingly adopted broadband Internet access, which has opened the door for Web sites to provide more sophisticated services. With the advent of YouTube and the buzz that surrounds online videos, it’s clear consumers demand rich media as part of their online shopping experience. Time and again, our consumers told us they wanted the flexibility to access dealership commercials and other video content when they are in the market for a car. We've always advised dealers to take a holistic approach with advertising by, for example, directing customers to the dealership Web site through television and radio ads. Dealers can now leverage existing and already-produced television and radio ads by including those spots along with their vehicle listings with AutoTrader.com’s new Multimedia Center. Now, you can join the trend and upload videos to help tell your story—use existing commercials, create a message from the dealer or general manager, or introduce your friendly sales team.

Also, last year a new function was created  called "Find Your Dealer," a way for consumers to more easily find dealerships based on the services and specialties offered. Consumers, however, still voiced the need and desire to conveniently locate, browse and filter local dealers. Now, on our "Find the Right Dealer for You" search page, an open-ended keyword search field allows consumers to type in any word or phrase to help them locate the right dealer that matches their shopping criteria. The results page then simulates an electronic Rolodex, where shoppers can easily browse the addresses and distances that dealerships are located in proximity to their zip code. At the same time, a panel in the form of a checklist on the left-hand side of the screen allows consumers to select special in-dealership services they may be interested in, such as financing preferences, special offers, services, vehicle inventory, languages spoken and amenities. AutoTrader.com provides shoppers the ability to filter dealership listings based on these particular needs. For example, if your dealership offers a business center with Internet access, a Spanish-speaking sales staff and a body shop for vehicle repairs, you now have a way to merchandise those offerings to customers searching for these conveniences.

If you’re a dealer who offers special financing programs to credit-challenged car shoppers, there is now a way for you to connect with those buyers and an easy way for those buyers to find you called Credit Center.  It is found on AutoTrader.com’s homepage and is designed to respect the personal privacy of car shoppers with poor credit while helping them locate local dealers who provide financing solutions to meet their needs. When you choose to market your special financing services to AutoTrader.com consumers, local shoppers can now find your dealership simply by entering their zip code within the Credit Center’s search feature to reveal your dealership listing. Consumers can also find your dealership by learning more about their own estimated level of credit. Through a series of questions in the Credit Center’s “Car Credit Guide,” consumers are provided with their corresponding estimated credit level—“excellent to good,” “good to fair” or “fair to poor.” The Credit Center then provides a list of local dealers best equipped to work with car shoppers in each respective category. Such a customized tool was previously unavailable to dealers to market their services to shoppers with unique credit challenges.

You may already be advertising online. At this point, the basics of pricing, multiple photos and descriptive ad copy may even be second nature to you. It's time to take advantage of the new tools available at your fingertips. Ultimately, getting your advertising messages in front of in-market car shoppers and helping consumers locate you and your specials even more quickly than before will lead to more sales.


Vol 5, Issue 7
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