How to Stand Out in a World of Digital Dealerships

How to Stand Out in a World of Digital Dealerships

Consumers have spoken and dealers have responded. As a result of overwhelming demand, about 70% of dealerships now offer some form of a digital buying experience.* They are giving customers what they want—the option to start and (in some cases) even complete the car buying process online. But with so many dealers going digital, how does your digital dealership stand out?

Bring Awareness to Your Customers

Simply having a digital buying experience is no longer enough, especially if your customers don’t know what you offer. To differentiate your dealership and win more automotive leads, you have to bring awareness to your digital options.

Having digital buying tools on your website is a good first step, but you have to create, design, and implement a buying experience that speaks to your audience—modern car buyers. Customers are already motivated to move through a digital buying experience (two out of three want to complete even more steps digitally during their next buying experience). And when they know what dealership offers, you stand out.

Tell your customers all about your digital buying experience and make the benefits clear to the customer—reduced time in the dealership, added convenience, and the ability to buy even when out of market. Doing so can expand your reach, attract more car buyer leads, and provide a clear pathway to engage with your offerings.

Make Your Digital Experience as Easy as Possible

One of the top pain points of buying a car is spending time in the dealership. If your customers can complete a handful of steps digitally before arriving at the dealership, the entire car buying process will be smoother, more efficient, and easier for your customers. These initial digital steps may include the ability to:

  • Calculate personalized payments in every aspect of their deal structure
  • Include every possible incentive and rebate available to your customers
  • Value a trade-in and see how the price of a new or used car adjusts accordingly
  • Get an idea of their credit worthiness and even apply for and get preapproved for financing
  • Schedule a test drive appointment

When you offer this kind of experience, word gets around. Before long, your online reviews will reflect that buying a car from your dealership is the best, most efficient experience around. This has a compounding effect of bringing even more awareness to your dealership as a place of business that speeds up the overall buying process and treats customers right.

Take Your Digital Buying Experience Above and Beyond

Another way to differentiate your digital buying experience is to implement steps that few other dealerships offer. This can disrupt the status quo of the new digital dealership and create some buzz around your offerings. These steps may include:

  • Personalized virtual video test drive: This may involve a video call with the customer while members of your sales team drive the car and show off features.
  • Remote deal signing: Give customers the option to complete signing from the convenience of their home or office. This can expand your dealership audience to include out-of-market customers and may give your dealership a competitive edge through inventory shortages.
  • Online vehicle reservation: On a similar note, giving digital customers the ability to put their name down for a car and get in line for an upcoming purchase can give your dealership an advantage when inventory is low across the industry.
  • Scheduling a first service appointment: Consider introducing your customers to your service department with a virtual service meeting. This can help your customers establish a consistent pattern of bringing their car to your service department and boost service revenue.

The digital dealership may be the new norm, but your digital dealership can stand out from the crowd by bringing awareness to customers, making your digital experience as easy and customer-friendly as possible, and going the extra mile to offer digital steps other dealerships don’t.

To learn more about how you can stand out in a world of digital dealerships, check out Manager of Performance Management B. Malaczewski’s recent webinar, all about differentiating the digital buying process. You can also learn more about delivering the kind of digital shopping experience your customers expect at

* Digitization of End-to-End Retailing (DoEER) study by Cox Automotive