|Consumers in the market for a used vehicle increasingly turn to the Internet first for research and price-comparison shopping. Automotive consumers are now demanding convenience and efficiency when it comes to their online shopping experience. A single Web site where they can research, find and even buy a vehicle would be ideal.|
In fact, the proportion of used vehicle buyers who used the Internet for shopping and ultimately found the vehicle they purchased is 10 percentage points greater than those who used the traditional means of visiting dealer lots, according to J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Used Autoshopper.com Study.
In addition, shoppers are increasingly looking to peers and others with experience to read their views on vehicles, parts and accessories. Consumers want to know what experiences other buyers had and if they would recommend the same vehicle to someone else. The Internet provides a way for prospective buyers to find this unfiltered information to aid them in the decision-making process when buying a big-ticket item such as a used vehicle.
Creating this full, rich Internet experience that consumers demand may be difficult to do in the confines of your dealer’s Web site. This is the value third-party sites bring as a resource and complementary sales channel to drive leads as well as sales to your dealership. These sites are investing in the infrastructure and technology to keep pace with the increasing consumer demand for an enhanced, one-stop automotive shopping experience. Many are implementing consumer-generated features at a quick pace and consumers are embracing these new elements. These Web sites continue to refresh with features that allow consumers to interact, respond and offer opinions.
For example, eBay Motors recently developed a new version of the eBay Motors site. It is currently available and scheduled to go live for all users in 2008. The new site offers additional research and pricing tools, in conjunction with an expanded list of buyer services, so consumers can become educated and comfortable before they make a purchase. The upcoming version of eBay Motors is complemented by eBay Neighborhoods, a collection of micro-communities on the eBay site where users connect with each other.
The neighborhoods have been created around specific interests, including BMW, Chevrolet, motorcycles and Mustangs. Users also can upload photos and use social mapping tools to visualize the connections between users and their interests.
Automakers also are responding to the movement of consumers who are relying on the Internet for research and community connections. General Motors and Chrysler both have more than one blog. According to TNS Media Intelligence, automakers and their local dealers have increased Internet advertising spending from $175 million in 2002 to $739 million in 2008, and those numbers do not include search engine marketing (SEM) budgets.
By enhancing and evolving the shopping experience for consumers, eBay Motors looks to drive additional traffic to its site and ultimately your dealership. Today’s automotive consumers are looking for peer reviews, data and research from multiple sources, and want it all available in a central location. As they become accustomed to Web 2.0 sites, they look for features that allow them to react to, alter and aggregate specific information to match their interests.
Consumers increasing demand for a convenient and efficient online automotive shopping experience drives the marketplace. As a dealer, it is important to be ahead of consumer demand to ensure growth and evolution in your business.
Brian Reed will depart F&I Express, the company he co-founded in 2008, four months following its acquisition by Cox Automotive.