By Tony Willard
Customers are increasingly entering showrooms after largely pre-qualifying their car purchase online, said MotoNovo Finance head of sales and marketing Karl Werner.
“They want online detail about the dealer, cars on offer, finance, warranties, service information and customer support – a bland template web presence is insufficient,” he added.
“If the online experience is not great, the chances of a showroom visit are significantly diminished.”
Dealers should use time once spent face-to-face with customers developing online content that recreates traditional rapport build.
“They can also insist suppliers help to build marketing content online – the new point of sale is digital,” said Werner.
Samantha Cripps, Alphera UK sales development manager, said: “Online platforms, such as dealership websites and social media channels, should be viewed as extensions of the forecourt. This is a chance to engage with potential customers before their final buying decision.
“Dealers are looking for greater integration across their management systems, finance and insurance packages and customer relationship marketing software,” said Cripps.
John Hughes, director of broker Mann Island Finance, said: “We encourage dealers to provide more finance information online because this is vital to secure car sales.
“The change in lenders’ risk appetite has created an opportunity for dealers. They work with customers to help them to get a loan – digital media alone cannot compete with this.”
David Challinor, managing director of The Funding Corporation, which provides non-prime used car loans through its ACF Car Finance outlets, said: “Treading traditional avenues of marketing motor finance is likely to lead up a dead-end street. Our route to market is almost exclusively via digital channels.”