In this month’s CarDealer magazine, G-Forces’ Tim Smith explains why the recession isn’t all doom and gloom for autmotive dealers…
Call it a recession, a financial crisis or even a depression, one thing’s clear in this economic situation: the high street is suffering. Retail outlets are closing, announcing massive drops in turnover, and the high streets of many towns increasingly feature empty shops.
Of course, the commentators are calling the decline of the high street a symptom of the economy. Suggestions abound that people simply don’t have money to spend anymore and we’re all, financially speaking, doomed. Unsurprisingly, this sort of talk is simply so much biogas. People are still spending; they’re just doing so with more of an eye for a deal and from the comfort of their own home.
Online shopping has continued to grow in the face of the high street collapse, with an annual growth rate of 19% (according to the Interactive Media in Retail Group) this past year alone. All well and good, but how does this relate to the automotive dealers, long-since removed from the high street and seemingly banished to enterprise parks on the edge of town?
Put simply, Digital Dealerships mean automotive dealers are once again able to position themselves where the market is. For our clients this has been reflected by continual increases in website traffic and, importantly, record sales months in the last quarter despite the miserable consumer situation portrayed by the media.
Automotive web platforms and software – including G-Forces’ NetDirector Auto – mean that, despite any geographical distance, there’s more scope for attracting customers online than was ever available on the high street.
The internet has evolved and so too have automotive websites. Leading web-platforms now mean that dealers can make use of interactive design and multimedia and, with functions like live chat, customers can be as fully immersed in the brand as they would be had they strolled through the dealership’s doors. Effectively the whole web is now your forecourt.
Of course, even with an ever-growing market, simply having a website is only half the battle (no matter how many “wow factors” are incorporated in its design). With more people spending more time and money online, web marketing is of vital importance.
Sir Martin Sorrell recently said of balancing marketing budget that “you or I spend, according to statistics, 20% of our time online. So the weighting should be at least 20% By the time we get to 20% you or I will probably be spending a third of our time online.”
With more customers moving online and leaving traditional shopping channels, now is the time for automotive dealers to budget effectively for web marketing strategies and place their digital dealership in the right position to make the most of this evolution. After all; timing is everything.
It’s certainly sad news for many businesses, but for automotive dealers the shift from the high street to the web has essentially dropped a coach load of customers off on their digital dealership forecourt. An effective marketing strategy will turn those visitors into customers and attract even more as the market grows.