In our recent survey of 1200 UK motorists, we highlighted key findings regarding motorists' digital retail preferences. The research showed that over 90% of repondents would never buy a car solely online if it was worth more than £30,000 – less than the average price of a new car sold in the UK.

Clearly there is some way to go before people are as comfortable at buying their new cars online as they are their toasters!

Despite this, the survey highlighted another key aspect of UK consumer behaviour: more and more consumers are beginning their car buying journey online. Only around a third (36.6%) of all surveyed preferred to initially contact a dealership in person.

In our analysis, we concluded that this research best evidenced how the approach to a blended retail strategy is the most successful to the modern dealership– i.e. combining the best elements of the online and physical showroom to ensure successful sales.

But how can you best offer this? We break down some basic concepts to help make your blended retail experience work for your customers:

Make it Seamless

A blended retail strategy relies on a strong link between the customer's online journey and their physical one. The concept is redundant if it seems like two completely different experiences!

Bring as much of the showroom experience to your online channels as possible. Have a page with all your dealer’s photos and bios; include videos that highlight your latest stock; make sure to include photos and videos of any showroom events on your website and social media. Elements such as these help the customer feel as familiar as possible with your showroom and brand. This means that when they come to see you in person, you’ve already established a familiarity and affinity.

For customers whose journey begins in the showroom, make sure that you can best assist in the subsequent online transition. It can be as simple as ensuring your website URL is prominently displayed around the showroom floor, to installing dedicated touchscreens where customers can access your website, or even including QR codes beside your stock that can direct them to more vehicle information on your web page if using their mobile device.

Make it Easy

‘Make it easy’ should be the foundation of your online customer experience- from finding vehicle info, selecting add-on products, determining the overall cost and booking a demo. But make sure your user experience is just as smooth when it comes to customer transition to the showroom.

Consider the use of online chat so that buyers can more easily find the answers to their questions. As soon as they start engaging with you online, you’re already providing the foundations for a relationship that can be built upon in the showroom.

Once the customer has booked a demo – keep making life as easy for them as possible. Send an email with the relevant dealership info, meeting times and directions. Ensure there’s an easily accessible option to change the date of the demo if they wish.

Send reminder emails the day before and ask if they have any questions that you can answer before their visit. Data indicates that customers feel more comfortable researching online (see here, for example), but less so in the showroom, so make sure it’s all as easy as possible to get them through the doors and behind the wheel.

Make it Tailored

How can you achieve a more personalised experience online? For a start, many dealers are missing out by sending ‘standard’ automated responses. If you want to give a proper showroom experience during the transition stage, try adopting a system of sending personalised responses from your direct email address. This way the customer already feels more valued and means they can contact the dealer directly if they have any further enquires.

Make sure to also personally respond to any enquires and pre-empt these requests by including anything in your email that may be helpful such as brochures, finance options and details of any similar stock that the customer might be interested in.

Finally, if the customer is happy to opt-in to further communications, you can tailor their buying experience through the lead management strategies discussed in our previous article.

Make it Fast

There’s no point in having a highly-responsive, fully automated website if a customer makes an enquiry, but doesn’t get a response from the dealership for a long time. The second a customer contacts your dealership, the responsibility is on you to build upon the good work your online presence has done. Fast responses to enquiries are one of the best ways of establishing reliance and trust before the customer has even stepped through the door.

If that hasn’t convinced you, then consider this -a previous Dealerweb study showed that over a third (34%) of consumers would consider looking elsewhere if they didn’t get a response in under four hours and over three quarters (76%) would look elsewhere if no reply in 24 hours.

Online consumers are used to finding answers rapidly, so dealers need to make sure they are offering a similar experience, else all their digital efforts will have been in vain!

Find out how our Showroom and React products can help you deliver a better blended retail strategy. Get in touch direct on +44 (0)1392 247477 or email

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