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Online sales: Give the people what they want

In a recent interview in Motor Trader Dave Hodgetts, MD of Honda UK, was asked about how franchise Honda dealers can get involved with digital selling.

He responded by saying that dealers have mixed opinions about online sales. Some are ready to embrace the technology, while others feel it is an invasion of their territory.

We continue the series of interviews in this month’s issue by speaking with Alex Smith, managing director of Nissan Motor (GB).

Asked about how the Nissan dealer network could address online sales, Smith stated it was important that dealers are ready to pick up the conversation with buyers wherever they jump out of the online environment.

As people who have grown up online become primary decision makers in the vehicle-buying process, dealers will need to have strategies which dovetail with the customer’s online journey.

This will help eliminate redundancy in the buying process (frustrating for the customer, a waste of time for the dealer) and improve the overall buying experience.

Dealers can help themselves by getting more involved in the delivery of online content. By adding content, preferably a short piece of video, dealers can take some of the wind out of the sales of third-party content providers, while underlining their own message.

According to information in the Consumer Opinion on Automotive Video survey, produced by video producer CitNOW, female customers are 60% more likely than men to view mobile content before they buy a car.

The same research suggests that while 85% of women are involved in the car-buying decision, 43% of those influencers don’t trust the automotive industry.

Original content for consumption by prospective women buyers could help start an initial conversation with an otherwise reticent prospect. The information could cover the dealer’s business ethos, or a description of the buying process. There’s a chance here to even address wider issues. Little has been done to counter the negative press surrounding diesel models – Alex Smith at Nissan believes it is up to dealers to explain the benefits of a given fuel type. A simple message highlighting how modern diesels compare to an equivalent petrol car could get that ball rolling.

Rather than meekly giving up the online space to competitors actively leveraging the internet, dealers can takeback the initiative. If women don’t want to come into a dealership, then the next-best idea is to get your message onto their preferred channel. There are too many negatives floating around the retail car sales space to not try and counter them before a customer walks through the door with their guard already up.

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