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The living room – aka ‘The digital hub’

It’s apparently becoming an idyllic scene repeated up and down the country on a daily basis: the family gathered round the television, laughing, enjoying and commenting on what’s on the TV.

Ofcom this week reported that British families are spending more time together watching television than they have since 2002, with 91% of adults watching their ‘main’ TV set at least once a week, as opposed to 88% in 2002.  But, unlike in 2002, people today are far more distracted thanks to the fact that 51% of us own a smartphone and the average household has three devices capable of accessing the web.

According to Ofcom, a third of adults use their smartphone or tablet to browse the web when watching (or ignoring) what’s on the box.  Of those, 16% undertake a bit of online retail therapy, and – bizarrely – 6% watch a completely different programme.  On this last point, when looking at tablet users in isolation, 20% regularly watch a different programme to what’s on the television.  And there’s an unquantified, but presumably large number of people distracting themselves from East Emmerdale Street by YouTub-ing videos of cats doing hilarious things.

Although there are a few souls who, it is understood, feel it necessary to access the web in the bathroom, Ofcom’s data points squarely at the living room as a home’s ‘digital hub’ – the place in which people do the majority of their web surfing.  This therefore re-enforces the importance for car dealers of having a web presence that is up to the task of being an attractive and engaging digital shop window.

Even people sitting on the sofa, rather than walking down the high street, expect a decent shop window and the ability to transact – as a minimum.  Having a website that works swiftly and effectively for mobile devices is also hugely important for any business worth its salt, given the prevalence of smartphones and tablets.

For car dealers, creating a truly effective website is less easy than in many retail sectors.  A car isn’t exactly an everyday purchase, but by realising this and working to their strengths, dealers can digitally underpin their businesses and capture a greater slice of the ‘sofa surfer’ generation.

Notably, dealers need to get all the most pertinent information across to a potential customer via the web by making their websites ‘one-stop shops’ for research.  Cater for all of the questions a customer might ask when in the showroom, and where it’s difficult to spell it out, make sure they can contact you easily through live chat, for example.  They say a picture says a thousand words, so imagine what incorporating video says?

Letting them transact online through features like service booking or a parts and accessories store is a big bonus.  As stated, 16% of men and women – bored of their partner’s TV viewing habits – are buying online when in their home’s digital hub, so dealers should look to capture a slice of this action.

Finally, a social presence is a great move as a brand-building exercise.  Staring inanely at Facebook and Twitter is, to all intents and purposes, a bona-fide national past-time.  Get your business out there, build familiarity and interact with those who couldn’t care less about The Only Way is Geordie Shore.

Apart from anything else, many consumers will almost certainly be glad of the distraction.

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