Most of us are familiar with the concept of showrooming and how it has impacted big box retailers like Best Buy.

Investopedia defines showrooming as “the practice of examining merchandise or products in a store and then buying them online for a lower price.”

Until recently, automotive dealers have been terrified of showrooming.

Letting a consumer test-drive a dealer’s inventory, only to have that consumer buy from their lowest priced competitor sends chills down most dealers’ spines. So dealers have fought back, doing everything in their power to prevent this – primarily through margin eroding price reduction to keep the consumer from leaving the showroom.

This selling pressure has led to the rise of webrooming, which is defined as “the opposite behavior to ‘showrooming.’ With showrooming, retailers are faced with the challenge of customers coming into the store to browse and test products, only to subsequently go home and actually complete their purchase online (often through a competitor). Webrooming, on the other hand, is when consumers research products online before going into the store for a final evaluation and purchase.”

Automotive consumers now do all of their research online and enter the store only to execute the purchase and sign the paperwork. Today’s consumer has become so distrustful of dealers that they will only endure a visit when they’re perfectly prepared to buy.

How often does your sales team encounter a consumer that won’t answer their phone, but negotiates by email? Today’s consumer fears verbal and physical sales interactions.

Webrooming is about delivering a mobile-friendly, personalized experience

What does this mean to today’s dealer? First, winning the click is essential. Second, delivering an engaging, personalized, content rich experience is an online deal closer.

The entire sale is now won online. Winning the click has been critical for some time, but with the rise of webrooming, the entire sale is now won or lost online.

Before, getting your inventory online was all you had to worry about. It was about proving to a consumer that you had the vehicle they wanted so they would come in. Having your cars shot and getting them online quickly was most important. And this remains a critical step.

But now, dealers must take the online experience to the next level. The #1 request from consumers on internet lead forms is a request for more (specific) photos. It is clear that today’s consumer is demanding a better user experience.

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Some tips to win the sale online:

  • Use interactive software that allows users to customize their shopping experience.
  • Find new ways to differentiate your inventory.
  • Increase transparency to consumers.
  • Bring special vehicle features ‘above the fold.’
  • Keep a keen eye on website performance metrics like:
  • Time on site
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Number of VDPs/user

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