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What car buyers want from their retail experience in 2022

Retail has become more digitised and personalised in recent years thanks to technology, and the automotive sector is no exception to this. More and more people want a tailored and digitally-led service when evaluating and buying a new car, to the point that nearly 90% of car buyers now prefer to research prospective purchases online.

Because of this trend, it’s vital for retailers to explore what consumers want from a new era of car-buying, including how technology can help, and what their digital transformation could look like. We’ll take a closer look at the current state of play in this blog, backed up by findings from our recently-released report.

What the data tells us

The dealership still has an important role to play within the car-buying process: our research found that almost half of respondents still prefer to visit a retailer in person. This is a major indicator that face to face interaction is compelling to a large proportion of consumers. However, the figure also indicates that for the other half of the population, the in-person retail experience no longer represents the most convenient option, in the face of the rise of more digitised options.

At the same time, the data has also underlined the importance of personalisation and high-quality service. The majority of car buyers now expect to receive a response from a dealership within three hours of making an enquiry. Additionally, younger customers recognise the value of a tailored approach: 72% of respondents under the age of 45 say they’d be more likely to buy a vehicle after being sent a personalised video.

Adapting experiences to suit your customers

While some retailers may feel that their in-person sales are still their number one priority, the recent pandemic has shown us that things can change fairly quickly. An effective blended experience of online and offline can help you meet a range of customer expectations and needs – so the importance of a digital strategy for the future can’t be overlooked.

There are several things sales teams can do to transform their digital strategy and ensure they continue to appeal to new and existing customers alike:

  • Understand customer expectations: Listen to feedback from customers, so that sales strategies and customer journeys can be reviewed and adjusted over time.
  • Offer blended experiences: Combine the benefits of online and in-person touchpoints, so that customers have control and flexibility in how they evaluate a purchase and how they connect with sales teams.
  • Build relationships digitally: Use both live and recorded video to converse with customers one-to-one, so that connections between the two parties can be developed, even if a customer is unwilling or unable to visit the dealership in person.
Keeping up with digital transformation

The move towards digital means that for most retailers, the experience of their online showroom will become as important as its physical equivalent. In a competitive marketplace, there is a certain level of expectation when it comes to the digital customer experience – including the journey from online to offline.

Retailers can get creative and develop online listings that not only stand out from the crowd, but also give the most detailed and comprehensive view of the car possible. Our research has found that quality, quantity and detail are all important to potential customers. Good online listings should always include:

  • A variety of external images that show the car from all angles
  • High-quality images that are clear, in good resolution, and are taken in an area with plenty of light and space
  • Exterior videos that highlight particular features or (particularly for used cars) levels of condition
  • Interior videos that focus on individual details, and which demonstrate functionality where possible

Ideally, this should be complemented by the ability to request personalised content about a prospective purchase. For example, once a customer has seen an online listing, the ability to easily contact the dealership for specific information or details, and then promptly receive a personalised video recording that addresses their individual queries will help them stand out from the competition.

In summary

There’s no time to lose in advancing your digital transformation and responding to customer demands that are changing faster than ever before. With the help of technology like CitNOW Web and Sales, you’ll be perfectly placed to develop a digital strategy and customer journeys that put your vehicles in the best light, resonate with customers, and turn interest into deals.

We can help you take your digital customer experiences to the next level. Learn how retailers like you are achieving this using our solutions here. To explore our findings on digital customer experiences in more detail, explore our full report.