How to accelerate contactless car sales with digital retailing

Jun 10, 2020
The Autotrader Team

Undoubtedly, your dealership is now relying more heavily on virtual and contactless vehicle sales tactics. From the first chat with shoppers to the virtual walkaround and home test drive, dealerships have quickly made big adjustments to keep sales moving.

Why effective use of digital retailing tools is essential for contactless vehicle sales

Digital retailing – tools on your listings and/or website VDPs that allow shoppers to understand payment details, ask questions, make an offer and begin deal paperwork – is a key element of virtual sales. And it’s one that dealerships and consumers are relying on more and more to connect and get deals done.

Did you know? Two-thirds of shoppers are willing to do their deals 100% online.
And on Autotrader, we’ve seen 288% year-over-year growth in digital retailing.2

Digital retailing helps grease the wheels of the deal and differentiate your dealership competitively based on experience, not just price. Consumers are willing to get the deal done online, but only if they’re provided with an experience that they trust. Car buyers want a smooth experience that is thorough and personalized to their needs.

We’ve gathered some digital retailing best practices from you from the Cox Automotive Digital Retailing and Autotrader teams. Consider these tips as you adjust your sales process for today’s climate and staff limitations.

A. Let potential buyers know you’re ready to start deals online.

Make sure you’ve got strong messaging in your advertising and on your website, letting potential customers know you offer safe and convenient contactless car buying, including the ability to get deals started online, and the offers will come.

Insider tip: For dealers with digital retailing on Autotrader, VDPs now feature a “Start Your Deal Online” badge to encourage consumers to get the deal started. It’s part of our free Dealer Home Services tools that help connect you with car shoppers looking for the contactless buying services you offer. If you’re using Dealer Home Services and digital retailing, you’re all set. 

B. Build relationships with shoppers digitally.

Even when in-person communication isn’t possible, relationship building remains essential. Digital retailing offers the tools to get the deal moving, but it’s also a way to connect with potential customers and build a relationship that ultimately helps seal the deal. Take advantage of digital retailing tools to start a dialogue and understand what shoppers are truly looking for.

As always, transparency is key. In this case, more is more—clearly outline your processes and what shoppers can expect at every step of the journey. So, acknowledge the online steps the customer has completed with personalized communication touch points. Small customizations can go a long way toward building trust and keeping things moving.

C. Accelerate your sales process.

Digital can help you maximize your business during the downturn with fewer staff and in less time. Take your showroom to the shopper with these key steps:

Step 1 : Shopper offer

A digital retailing offer is more than just a lead. If you have staffing challenges right now, consider making your digital retailing leads your highest priority, ensuring quick and thorough responses for every offer that comes in.

For other leads that come in, consider using digital retailing tools to move the conversation along. Point shoppers to your VDPs to see scenario payments, structure the deal online with trade-ins or payments, and submit an offer.

Step 2: Review and counter

When you get a digital retailing lead, be sure to reply to the shopper with a message that validates the work they’ve done so far. Since this is essentially a virtual write-up, you’ll need to respond just as you would if the shopper were sitting in your dealership.

If you can’t connect with the contact in real time right away, consider sending a personalized video message, along with a counter-offer with two to three options and next steps.

Step 3: Negotiate & finalize the deal

Messaging the shopper through your digital retailing tool, emails and text is a great way to get started, but you’ll likely benefit from eventually taking the conversation to a more personal level through FaceTime, Zoom or a phone call. Selling cars is still relationship based, and this is where you shine.

Step 4: Approve & contract

As you continue to settle financing and prepare the contract, connect with the shopper via webinar or video conference. Be sure to communicate the details of delivery and handoff, especially your sanitation and social distancing procedures. The goal is to make the shopper 100% comfortable.

Step 5: Sign & deliver

Finally, put together a checklist of items that your staff needs to complete before leaving the drop-off location. Items might include checking signatures, DMV details, trading keys and odometer verification. And be sure to communicate those procedures to your customer, as well as your dealership team.

Let’s keep sales moving.

Remember, you might not be able to sell cars from the showroom, but with digital retailing as part of your arsenal of contactless sales tactics, you can still sell cars.

Make sure your team is in lockstep and give car buyers an experience that’s easy and seamless during this unique situation. You’ll win customers who stick with you when the new normal resumes.

Interested in more best practices for digital retailing? Check out Cox Automotive’s recent digital retailing webinars: Digital Retailing Done Right, Creating Your Virtual Sales Approach and Deal-Making in Today’s Digital World, available on demand.

1 2019 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Digital Shopper Study

2 Autotrader Site Data, 2019 v. 2020