The topic of the “Amazon Effect” came up during a recent conversation with our dealer advisory board. This refers to the impact the digital marketplace has on the traditional business model regarding consumer expectations and the new competitive landscape, according to a story posted on MillenialMarketing.com.
Consumers now expect their buyer journey to be entirely frictionless and immediate, regardless of the particular industry or product in question.
Dealers say they are already seeing less foot traffic in their stores as more customers are turning to the internet. For instance, I entered “riding lawn mower” into Amazon’s search bar and it returned 219 results. “Lawn mower” yielded over 40,000 results.
However, the good news is that every customer that enters your door is looking for something they can’t find on the internet. And, they most likely are ready to buy.
How can your in-store experience match other “frictionless” buying scenarios, while keeping the positive attributes of the retail shopping experience?
Think about how a customer interacts with your dealership. Start with the parking lot. I have often seen service vehicles parked in the front stalls. Maybe the employee is making a quick dash into the store, but it is the first instance of friction.
How long does it take your staff to greet a customer? Compare those first moments to entering a party alone when you are scanning for a friendly face. Make sure your customers/guests always quickly find a friendly face at your dealership.
The sales process is another step that can be fraught with friction. Consider using Bob Clements’ advice for doing walk-arounds, where you ask questions that a customer will most likely answer with a “yes.” Each “yes” smooths the path to purchase. (Learn more at www.RuralLifestyleDealer.com/walkaround.)
Moving down the sales path, from selecting a model to completing the financing, there are so many ways your team can discourage customers from buying.
However, don’t mistake reducing friction with limiting interaction with the customer. Amazon, for example, keeps engaging with the customer, such as with their daily deals, recommendations based on personal shopping trends and recommendations based on what other customers have purchased. You can adapt each one of those marketing techniques. They are also great conversation starters for follow-up phone calls and emails with customers.
Another trend you can use to your advantage is the “buy local” movement. G/O Digital, a marketing agency, recently conducted a survey of more than 1,700 people who had shopped locally. They found that “consumers don’t need a lot of extrinsic motivation to patronize local businesses. Fifty-five percent say they do so because they like to support their local communities and 30% say they do so in order to support small businesses (even if those businesses aren’t right in their local area).”
The study also uncovered this statistic, which links the online and in-store shopping thought process: “Showrooming is still an in-store factor for local retailers. Thirty-one percent of respondents say they’re likely to search for competitive pricing on a mobile device while in-store shopping.”
Competition is coming at you from all directions. I hope you feel confident about the many ways you stand apart and the many reasons why a customer should buy from you. Take an honest look at your dealership, though, to uncover ways you might be creating friction and losing sales.