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Capturing customer interest in your dealership online

How does your dealership capture a customer’s interest? There are many sources of influence, online and offline, but shoppers are increasingly turning to digital resources to find out about your dealership, to research a vehicle, to compare offers and, eventually, to make their purchasing decision.

The whole buying process takes almost 3 months for new vehicles, according to research from Google, and a positive online presence is key to ensuring a customer considers your dealership at all.

Shoppers have all the information they want without having to leave the house – independent research sites, manufacturer and dealer websites all help the customer before they even get to your dealership. According to research from, 68% of shoppers rely on online sources to find a dealership in the first place – and 20% only visit one showroom. 25% visit only two.

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What are the most influential online resources?

The same research found that most shoppers are influenced by at least three online sources.

  • 50% named independent research sites as most influential
  • 49% listed search engines
  • 46% said manufacturer websites helped significantly
  • 42% chose dealership websites.

These key sources ensure a customer considers your dealership in the first place and they are essential throughout the entire shopping journey. Dealerships need to consider their presence on all sources, not only on their own website.

Visiting a dealership is, of course, still invaluable to customers and a primary resource for research. Speaking to a salesperson, seeing the vehicle they are interested in, sitting in the driver’s seat and taking it for a test drive are all still essential elements of the purchasing journey. But building an online presence is how dealerships gain and increase footfall in the first place.

In comparison to the two-thirds of shoppers who rely on online sources to find a dealership, only 9% use outdoor ads and only 8% use radio. It was also found that more than half of shoppers will not contact a dealer before a visit but for those who do get in touch, phone and email are the preferred communication methods.

How can digital technology be used to retain customers?

Smartphones are invaluable tools during the automotive purchasing journey and consumers prefer to text and use online chat to engage with their dealer. Mobile is a hugely important platform that dealers need to build their sales processes around – it also helps support customer retention practices after a sale, such as promoting financial aftercare products.

Car Care Plan has recently launched a new smartphone app – compatible with both Apple® and Android™ devices – that lets customers submit their cosmetic warranty and alloy wheel insurance claims. Add-on products give your dealership the edge over competitors and innovations such as Car Care Plan’s app provide a further incentive to help you close the deal.

Learn more about the importance of smartphones to your dealership in our blog.

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Apple is a trademark of Apple Inc.

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