Availability of information empowers the digital consumer

12 June 2012 #SMMT News

“Tyre-kicking has gone online”.  That was the resounding message about the car-buying process from Hugh Dickerson, Senior Industry Head of Automotive at Google, to delegates at today’s SMMT International Automotive Summit.

Hugh was joined by social media experts, Laurie Kirschner, Head of Automotive at LinkedIn and Tim Smith, Commercial Director of GForces Web Management, on a panel discussing the changing face of car retailing.

Reflecting a culture of consumers who demand personalised service and are willing to share their opinion of customer service with fellow motorists, Google statistics show that 86% of car buyers start their research using search engines and that 77% of brand content is created by consumers.  More importantly for the manufacturers and dealer group representatives present, more than half of these consumers don’t end up buying their first choice of brand.

This is where dealer groups need to up their game and, as Tim Smith suggested, overcome a deeply ingrained culture of selling.  In a pre-digital era, with consumers making more than five dealership visits during the purchase process, the customer experience was confined to the showroom.  However, with only 1.3 visits today, the ‘dinosaur in a dealership’ must interact with potential customers via online channels and make the most of that one chance they get to see that customer face-to-face.

The unanimous message from panel members was that presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is vital.  For one thing, if you don’t give an outlet for customers to vent problems, they’ll do it via a third party – out of your control.

The final piece of advice, reflecting fast-growing smartphone adoption is to have a mobile website, optimised with localised search terminology.  Online, one in five searches has local intent and on mobile, one in three.  Customers are increasingly searching for dealership and car information while on the move.

Filter News

Update Newsletter