The Shift to Online Showrooms: Why Focusing on Your Website and Digital Presence Can Help Your Auto Dealership

The automotive industry has undergone significant changes in recent years with the advent of technology and the internet. One of the most substantial changes since COVID has been the shift from brick-and-mortar showrooms to “online showrooms”.  

Auto dealerships increasingly recognize the benefits of an online presence, and many focus their efforts into providing more information on their websites and digital showrooms. So, let’s discuss the reasons for this shift and how shifting focus toward your website and digital presence can help your business. 

The Shift to Online Showrooms 

There are several reasons for the shift to online showrooms. First and foremost, the internet has changed how people shop for cars. In the past, customers would visit multiple dealerships to compare prices and features. Today, they can do all this from the comfort of their homes or mobile devices. Online showrooms allow customers to view multiple vehicles, compare prices, research options, and read reviews without visiting the dealership.  

And a recent report from Progressive says those online buyers are happier by over 20% compared to in-dealership buyers. In addition, Progressive says, “Cost and time savings were leading reasons for buying a car online.” 

Another reason for the shift to online showrooms is the cost savings for auto dealerships. Brick-and-mortar showrooms have high rent, high-cost floor plans, utility bills, and staffing costs. Online showrooms, on the other hand, have the potential for minimal overhead costs, allowing dealerships to save money while still reaching a wider audience.

Benefits of an Online Store 

One of the most significant benefits of an online store is the ability to reach a wider audience. With more information available in an online showroom, customers can view and purchase vehicles from anywhere. This significantly expands the potential customer base, allowing dealerships to increase their sales and revenue to a sometimes national level. 

Focusing on the Online Store 

Given the benefits of an online store, it can be better for auto dealerships to focus their sales and service efforts on their online stores. This doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar showrooms should be abandoned, because customers still want to test drive the vehicle, but rather that dealerships should allocate more resources towards their online store presence. 

OEM’s are also moving more towards a digital model that pushes customers towards online sales instead of into dealerships. Having a strong online showroom can help dealerships come up in search results when customers are shopping for vehicles and showcase the value and expertise their dealership can provide to customers. 

While focusing on the online store reduces expenses while increasing the potential audience for a dealership, it is essential to note that providing excellent customer service is still crucial, even in an online environment. Dealerships should have the same dedicated team of sales and service employees to handle customer inquiries through things like online chat and web forms to demonstrate the type of knowledgeable and professional support that customers can expect from your business. A great online experience will strongly influence a customer as they decide where to purchase their vehicle. 

The shift from brick-and-mortar showrooms to online showrooms is an inevitable change in the automotive industry. However, auto dealerships embracing this change and focusing on their online stores are more likely to succeed in the long run.  

When Your Customers Arrive For A Test Drive, Elo GPS Helps Secure The Sale 

With fewer customers visiting in-person showrooms until they are further into the buying process, dealerships want to secure as many sales as possible from this reduced foot traffic. Elo GPS’ lot management function is an essential tool for dealers to help streamline the sales process and ensure that customers continue to have a great experience as they move from online to in-person for their purchase. 

Being able to quickly locate vehicles the customer is interested in test driving and knowing that the car is ready to impress with a full battery and sufficient fuel helps to improve CSI scores and drive return business in the future.