Personalization is key to a better car-buying experience

Jul 19, 2021
Greta Crowley

This time, it’s personal. Or … it should be when you’re talking about the car-buying process.

Consumer expectations for a personalized shopping experience are at an all-time high (thanks, COVID), and the digitization of everything isn’t so much a trend as it is the new reality of retail.

Whether they’re buying coffee or cars, customers expect accuracy and demand content and products specific to them. In exchange, they’re willing to give retailers more personal information for that desired experience. In fact, 63% of new vehicle shoppers say they’ll provide more information online if it results in a more personalized offer and less time spent at the dealership.?

Digital is how you make car buying personal

Personalization means tailoring your dealership’s offerings to suit the needs of each individual customer. And although you can create personal experiences with traditional and in-person offerings (and yes, those are important too!), digital retailing offers the biggest opportunity to create a truly personalized customer experience. With digital retailing, you can leverage customer-entered information (like budget and down payment information) as well as first-party data (location, browser behavior, demographic information, etc.) to build a personal retail experience from start to finish.

And that’s exactly what consumers want. They want to do more online, visit fewer dealerships and spend less time at the dealership. When they do, they’re happier — and likely so are you.

Personalization saves everyone time (and money)

The universal draw to digital is saving time. Personalization is how you do it.

A customer saves time during the shopping process when personal information — like estimated monthly payments, trade-in values and financing terms — are surfaced early in the process to help them move through the car-buying journey easier and faster.

Free consumer tools like Autotrader’s My Wallet deliver budget guidance and generate personalized payment estimates across all listings with a dealer’s preferred lender. This feature is a personalization gateway, giving customers their “all-in” price and giving them the confidence to buy. When consumers have more accurate information about their purchasing power, dealers receive more qualified leads from the shoppers who are closer to purchasing.

Getting personal at your dealership

Today, the most popular digital retailing steps occur at the start of a shopper’s journey. Are you offering at least one of these steps online now?

  1. Apply for financing
  2. Information on incentives
  3. Schedule test drive
  4. Payment calculator
  5. Trade-in offer

If not, now is the time to jump in. Customers overwhelmingly (84%) say that handling some part of the car-buying process online leads to a smoother in-person experience. So think about creating a consistent customer experience that extends beyond the dealership.

74% of franchise dealers agree that digital retailing offers customers a more seamless experience.?

If you are already offering these steps online, it’s time to take your digital retailing and personalization to the next level.  Online transacting is the future, and neither consumers nor dealers are looking back. As of the beginning of the year, only 1 in 3 franchise dealers has an end-to-end solution, but 76% of shoppers say they’re open to the idea of buying completely online. There is opportunity there for dealerships that can close the deal digitally.?

You can get ahead of the curve by moving the final steps of the purchase process online, such as finalizing the price, selecting F&I products and collecting remote signatures for paperwork.

Better leads, faster deals and happier customers

Enhance your digital presence with solutions that enable a more personalized, flexible and efficient online car-buying process. If you need more proof of the power of personalization, take a look at the 50 statistics Forbes compiled from several research studies of companies like Accenture, Adweek and Adobe.

If you’re not sure where to start, visit the Accelerate My Deal page on b2b.autotrader.com to learn more or reach out to your dedicated dealer success consultant if you’re an existing customer.