Dealers should look to be among the earliest adopters of social commerce to try its potential to maximise new and used car sales and aftersales.
Dealer management systems specialist Pinewood says that online coupon schemes such as GroupOn could be ideally structured for successful use by dealerships.
The social commerce principle is that a group of people in a local area concentrate their buying power in order to achieve a better deal. So a dealership might negotiate an offer – if 10 people sign up to a deal, they will qualify for a half price MoT.
The idea is that, in addition to existing local contacts registered on the site, individuals make use of their own social contacts either in person or through social media such as Facebook in order to make the deal accessible to all.
Managing director Neville Briggs said: “Social commerce represents a shift in consumer thinking and presents an ideal opportunity for dealers to increase foot fall in the dealership and workshop bookings for all kinds of aftersales items, from servicing and MoTs to sets of tyres and accessories.
“The principle could also be applied to car sales. If you are a dozen cars off your volume related bonus, you could make a GroupOn offer designed to take you past target.”
He added: “Social commerce is an opportunity for dealers to use what is usually, at the point of contact, a free marketing service that could help to drive large amounts of traffic to their dealership and its web site, creating wider awareness and even ultimately delivering regular customers."
Although in its infancy, there have been numerous success stories across the world in the motor industry using GroupOn.
Recently, a trial by Mercedes-Benz in one of its weaker markets, Asia, saw the same amount of cars ordinarily sold in seven months equalled by social commerce in just four hours.
Mazda has also recently started promoting Facebook offers in the UK and this trend will become more commonplace and move beyond manufacturer offers.
“Whilst its use in the UK motor industry is largely untested, it could potentially become an important part of every dealer’s marketing toolbox.
"There are pitfalls – some companies that make offers through simply cannot cope with the demand and the offers accepted by GroupOn generally have to be quite aggressive – but it also offers considerable potential benefits.
“As with all promotional campaigns, the success lies in the validity and scope of the offer. It is common place on social commerce platforms for consumers to make a purchase well in advance of their normal cycle, some could potentially pay for their MoT nine months in advance, if the offer was right.”