Make Intentional Changes to Make the Most of Digital Retailing

Make Intentional Changes to Make the Most of Digital Retailing  

While sales and service activity are beginning to bounce back to normal rates for approximately 70% of franchise dealerships, according to the 2020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer & Dealer Impact Study, many of the changes implemented in dealerships appear to be here to stay. One of the most rapid and critical shifts in automotive digital marketing and operations is the rise of digital retailing.  

According to the same Cox Automotive study, 61% of shoppers want to do more of the purchase steps online compared to the last time they purchased a vehicle. In addition, 74% of franchise dealers have a digital retailing solution in place—a percentage that has remained steady since April.  

The ability to make virtual car sales may have once been a nice to have, but dealerships who have embraced digital retailing are proving how critical it now is to success.  

According to the latest research from Cox Automotive, dealerships whose staff have successfully embraced working in a digital environment are faring much better than others when it comes to generating automobile leads. Among dealerships who staff have not successfully adapted to a more digital environment, 60% are experiencing a sales decline and 50% are concerned about going out of business. Compare that to dealerships with a staff that has successfully adapted to a more digital environment; only 39% are experiencing a sales decline and 18% are concerned about going out of business.  

Dealers who have adapted to an online environment are experiencing higher performance. But adapting means more than buying a digital retailing solution; it requires meaningful, intentional change on dealers’ part. Here are a few key changes our team of experts recommend to make the most of digital retailing.  

Keep new customer preferences top of mind 

“Consumers don’t want to go to a bunch of different spots online and have a disjointed experience. They want one connected experience. Today’s consumers want to feel in control of their car buying process, and they also want to know how to get help from a dealer without going into the showroom. That is a big shift in preferences.” 

-Wayne Pastore, Vice President of Operations, Dealer Marketing, Cox Automotive Dealer Software Solutions 

Market your offerings consistently.  

“Make sure you offer a consistent digital shopping experience across channels: your dealership website, third-party listings, both traditional and mobile. Allowing a customer to continue an experience, rather than start over, offers significant advantages and is a better experience overall.”  

-Mo Zahabi, Senior Director of Product Consulting,, Cox Automotive Digital Retailing, and VinSolutions 

Implement flexible processes.  

“As expected, consumer engagement with digital retailing has skyrocketed since March. Going forward, though, we have to realize though that there are different levels of digital retailing adoption, and today’s dealers need to be able to accommodate uber progressive customers as well as traditionalists.”  

-Chase Abbott, Senior Vice President of Sales,, Cox Automotive Digital Retailing, and VinSolutions  

Think about digital retailing beyond your website.  

“An interesting trend we’re seeing of late is an increased use of digital retailing tools for normal walk-in and lead traffic. As these tools become better and better and more integrated with all your dealerships sales and marketing tools, we’re seeing some dealerships use digital retailing for every deal—even if an old school customer walks in the door, the salesperson still puts that customer into the DR process themselves. Of course, you have some customers who will never go online only, but recent Cox Automotive research has shown us that a lot of more customers are considering it.” 

-Chase Abbott, Senior Vice President of Sales,, Cox Automotive Digital Retailing, and VinSolutions  

To learn more about how to move your dealership forward, download the Digital Marketing Playbook or contact your team of Cox Automotive Performance Managers.