There’s a major shift underway in the way people shop for cars. No, the actual shopping process – from initial research to visiting dealerships – hasn’t changed. But where and when people shop is evolving.
We’re referring to the rise of mobile – a seismic shift that’s affecting nearly every industry.
Automotive is no exception. OEMs, recognizing an imperative to appeal to mobile users, are baking mobile-friendly technology into their cars. And you’ve no doubt seen shoppers using their phones inside your dealership.
Chances are, those shoppers are comparing prices. The most popular in-dealership smartphone activity is searching for pricing info, JD Power has found.
We’ve seen the same behavior on CarGurus.com. In a survey we conducted this spring, 33 percent of people said they’d used their phone inside a dealership to comparison shop – and another 40 percent said they planned to do so in the future.
All this mobile use is driving a change in the way shoppers communicate with dealers. Just in the past year, the number of phone leads submitted by CarGurus users has grown substantially.
So what does this mean for internet sales – are email leads on the way out?
The short answer is no. Lots of shoppers do submit email leads via CarGurus every month. Plus, the incredible growth in mobile use notwithstanding, we still see shoppers submit more desktop leads than mobile ones.
Yet there’s no doubt the car-shopping process is moving towards mobile. Here’s what you can do to prepare:
1. Anticipate more shopping activity later in the day
An interesting side effect of the mobile shift is that more people are contacting dealerships outside normal business hours. This makes sense – a person who is busy at work doesn’t necessarily want to spend time on the phone with a dealership, so s/he will call near the end of the day. Consider whether your hours of operation accommodate this time shift.
2. Merchandise on multiple platforms
The current state of auto shopping can be summed up in one word: fragmented. Shoppers are visiting multiple websites to research cars – 80 percent of people visit at least three sites during the shopping process – and they’re doing so on PCs, tablets and phones. Where does your inventory live? If the answer is your website only, you’re missing out on lots of eyeballs. Leveraging third-party partners who have a mobile presence can put your VDPs in front of more low-funnel shoppers.
3. Expect to get more phone calls
This tip sounds obvious, but we were surprised by the number of CarGurus dealers who haven’t optimized their phone presence. We learned after conducting a study this summer that 15 percent of the dealer phone numbers on CarGurus VDPs go to a bad number, reach voicemail or simply aren’t picked up. Only 14 percent of dealer numbers reach a sales staffer directly. So take a look at the phone numbers you share on the web. They should route directly to your internet sales department.
Interested in learning more about CarGurus? Call us at (855) 466-4830 or request information from our sales team.