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Guest opinion: Connect with customers by making your showroom social

Toby Britton, chief marketing officer at Miappi

As one of the few areas of retail which simply can't be conducted entirely online, car dealerships are physical retail spaces which are just as relevant today as they were before the rise (and rise) of online shopping.

Buyers may now harness the power of the web to browse, research and locate their next vehicle, but there's simply no avoiding a trip to the forecourt or showroom once an ideal vehicle has been identified.

While everything from holidays and lawnmowers, to wedding dresses and wine now often have their primary “shop floor” in the digital sphere, presenting a pleasant and persuasive physical space is still essential for dealerships keen to sell more.

Blending the physical and the digital

Although a modern, welcoming, comfortable and visually appealing space will increase buyer confidence and encourage return visits, these physical aspects should already be best practice for any dealership in the 21st century.

An area in which the majority of dealerships could stand to improve, however, is technology. Customers may still depend on physical spaces to view vehicles and finalise purchases, but there's no denying that “the rise of digital” is impacting how consumers shop, research products, engage with brands and share their experiences – and this extends to dealerships.

Consumers visit 1.4 showrooms before a purchase

Thanks to the wealth of information available online, the average consumer walks into just 1.4 showrooms before purchasing a vehicle. That means they've almost certainly made up their mind before they walk through your doors.

In fact, statistics from Google reveal that 62% of car buyers claim their experience at a dealership informs their next purchase, while 52% claim later interactions with the dealership influence their next vehicle purchase. Melding the digital with the physical is an ever-more powerful way to boost visitor experiences and develop ongoing relationships which result in future sales.

How to create the perfect blend

But How? Well, it's actually more straightforward than you may think. With digital peer reviews and opinions now carrying more weight than brand-owned content, sharing user-generated feedback in showrooms is a great way to boost user confidence in store and grow your relationship in future.

This may sound like a heap of digital nonsense, but it's really pretty simple: Showcasing the great things previous buyers have said about your dealership and their new vehicle can maximise consumer confidence. Meanwhile, displaying a buyer's content in store can open the door to further interactions, relationship building, as well as recommendations and return custom. As a matter of fact, a recent study into digital behaviour revealed that 72.4% of people would feel excited if they saw their own social media messages on a brand website or a public digital display.

And where is the very best place to collect these reviews and shout out to former customers? The answer is social media.

Sharing social on showroom screens

Of course, you don't want every little social media interaction popping up unmonitored on screens in your showroom. Instead you want to showcase great reviews, photographs of happy customers, positive tweets and a selection of the best brand-owned content your company has created.

This mix will serve a veritable smorgasbord of purposes:

  • Peer reviews instil customer confidence and encourage viewers to send their own messages to be displayed on screen – thus reaching more potential consumers and extending your brand’s reach while constantly generating more good publicity.
  • Visual content and eye-catching displays make your showroom “stickier” causing visitors to want to stay longer.
  • Displays introduce your digital presence to consumers, encouraging them to connect with you online later, helping to build connections and trigger repeat custom.
  • Digital displays reflect well on brands, showing they care about consumers, are easily contactable and are at the top of their game.

Author: Toby Britton, chief marketing officer at Miappi

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