Auto dealerships are facing a tidal shift in the way they do business. In the past, customers expected to have to visit a dealer location for hours— perusing vehicles and then waiting while their salesperson processed a paper-based contract and funding application. Those days are disappearing. Today, customers demand more digital experiences that are faster, more convenient and less error-prone.
Recent trends have made it more important than ever to digitize sales. According to Cox Auto, satisfaction rates are high among car buyers at 66%, but still down compared to 2020, when they hit 72%. Inventory frustrations have compounded the problem as dealerships face short supplies and longer lead times. Now, rising inflation is piling even more pressure on dealers trying to keep sales and customer satisfaction strong.
Digital sales tools are a way to sustain or improve customer satisfaction levels. Cox found that digital buyers tended to be more satisfied with the shopping experience and time commitment. More digital buyers also felt that they got a good deal from the retailer. They were also less affected by the chip shortage, in part because it was easier to assess inventory.
This suggests that digital tools with a focus on customer experience will become essential in the future. There are some other factors to consider, too. One of these is flexibility. Automakers frequently offer their own digital selling tools to dealers. While some dealers who are just beginning to explore digital selling might welcome this easy on-ramp, others are wary of becoming too tightly locked into manufacturers' own tools. They want future-proofing in the form of adaptable, flexible tools, and they don't want the original equipment manufacturer to gain too much control over customer interactions.
Dealers also need secure digital workflows that handle sensitive customer information responsibly. Tools must use that data effectively to help them identify and target the most likely and profitable prospects.
Here are some tools that promise to breathe new life into management processes with streamlined, integrated digital selling capabilities for auto dealers.
This cloud-based system is a vehicle listing marketplace that connects dealers and buyers. It also offers sales management software for dealers, including an inventory management system. That allows you to upload vehicle details to a branded dealer page. Plus, it supports fast exports to popular listing providers. It also offers a dealer app to complement its desktop software for fast inventory collection and upload.
Carsforsale.com also integrates with Facebook, where dealerships can post inventory and photo overlay tools to help jazz up listings. A custom website option features videos and shopping badges for extra marketing power.
This cloud-based dealer management system features tight integration between its inventory management system and its customer relationship management, which receives leads from over 50 third-party sources. It deduplicates leads and assigns them automatically to sales representatives, allowing you to track their performance.
DealerTrack is a DMS, finance and insurance, and titling solution that takes customers seamlessly through the digital buying process. This cloud-based service focuses on digital workflows, offering digitized contract management and funding application options that replace manual paper-based processes.
DealerTrack uses a funding checklist that builds as the dealer works through the contract. It digitizes and categorizes documents automatically and allows for electronic signing, either remotely or at the dealership. It then sends completed funding applications electronically to the lender.
This sales tool targets tech-savvy dealers that want to hit all of the right sales channels. It allows posting to multiple third-party sites. Built-in image processing enhances vehicle photos and overlays custom watermark text with more information about the sale. It also automates the vehicle description from the inventory, avoiding double entry.
GoxeeDealer also includes a website design service that will integrate with the back-end DMS, listing vehicles and collecting customer information for booking test drive and financing appointments online. This information feeds into the GoxeeDealer CRM system, which also takes lead information from third-party sites and feeds them into its desking software.
This auto dealer software suite offers a range of integrated solutions including DMS, CRM and F&I. It also features digital sales functionality that revolves around its CDK Connected Store, a service that lets customers build detailed quotes on their own via the dealer's website or an in-store app. This talks directly with the dealer's desking system, giving the customer transparent pricing. The integration enables the back-end software to pick up that data and advance the F&I process with faster digital contracting.
Notarize is an online notarization platform that can help reduce fraud in digital selling. Delivered via the web, Android, or iOS devices, the service enables buyers to upload their documents and verify customer identities via government ID and a series of secure, targeted questions.
The service then connects the signer with a commissioned notary public who witnesses them signing the sales and other legal documents over a live video link that is recorded for future reference.
The Notarize platform enables automotive customers to transact remotely, while giving dealers peace of mind that their buyer is who they claim to be. This ability to handle legal documents remotely can reduce costs and time, and ultimately allow you to give your customers a fully-digital purchasing experience.
These tools are a small sampling of the dozens of auto dealer software products that include digital sales as a feature. Incorporating one of these or an alternative for your dealership will help enable your dealership to focus on the customer experience for better repeat business, including service sales. Implemented properly, digitization can lead to long-term revenue improvements while cutting the bottom-line costs associated with manual processes.