Attracting first-time car buyers requires many of the steps you’d take to capture other types of customers. One of those steps is knowing what first-time car buyers want. Usually, this strategy relates to understanding customers’ vehicle preferences, finances, and life events to determine what type of car will make the most sense. However, knowing what first-time car buyers want also comes down to understanding their shopping preferences.
People buying their first vehicle may have different shopping behavior from your previous customers, and that’s not because your dealership has done something right or wrong. It’s simply because we’re living in the age of Amazonification.
What is Amazonification?
Amazonification is a car-buying process that lets consumers shop for and purchase vehicles online as easily as purchasing a product on Amazon. Tesla is primarily responsible for creating this process, as the company was the first to move car buying away from auto dealerships and online.
While the electric car manufacturer made purchasing a vehicle simpler, many automakers resisted Amazonification, believing car buyers wouldn’t feel comfortable making such an expensive purchase online. They were proven wrong when e-commerce sales in the U.S. jumped by 25% in 2021, the biggest increase in the last ten years. Recent research from Cox Automotive also suggests that car buyers who completed half of their shopping process online were happier, and most will interact with at least one digital tool when shopping for a car.
Given consumers’ move to online car shopping and the new belief that this behavior will remain, many automakers are trying to sell directly to potential customers. General Motors announced plans to allow consumers to shop for, buy, and finance their vehicles entirely online—but transactions will still include a dealer.
Decision makers at Honda also recently said they’d sell their entire electric Acura line online for U.S. car buyers. Additionally, Ford is adopting a more streamlined online buying experience. The company’s CEO has even expressed interest in a future where automakers avoid sending their vehicles to sit on car lots and instead ship them straight to customers. Ford is already pushing this vision forward by implementing a program that requires dealers interested in electric vehicles to agree to spend $500,000 to $1.2 million on installing and operating fast chargers and site upgrades, relegating dealerships to service centers.
How Amazonification Impacts Auto Dealerships
With automakers taking steps to sell directly to consumers, dealerships have reasons to worry. Many are struggling to accept Amazonification, as they cling to old business models where car buyers come in, shop, and make a purchase. Car dealers also know that direct sales mean a decrease in profits. Instead of visiting a car lot, buyers will go on an auto manufacturer’s website to purchase a vehicle—and that is particularly true for first-time car buyers.
People buying cars for the first time know they don’t have to go in person anymore to research for or purchase a vehicle. Around 76% of U.S. consumers shop online, and more than half of consumers prefer it that way. If you run a dealership, you can bet many consumers will have the same habits and preferences when buying a car as they do when purchasing other types of products. They will shop for vehicles online now that it’s an option, which means your dealership must make some changes.
Three Ways to Capture First-Time Car Buyers
If you don’t want to lose first-time buyers to automakers, your dealership needs to do one major thing: offer an online shopping experience. Doing so will allow you to stay competitive as Amazonification continues. However, offering a good online shopping experience isn’t easy. To do it well, you need to start by implementing three specific steps.
1. Develop marketing content and online ads
If you want to attract first-time car buyers, you need to speak to them. The best way to do that online is to create marketing material and online ads that resonate with your audience. On the marketing side, you’ll need to develop engaging website copy, blogs, online resources, email marketing campaigns, and social media posts. When it comes to online ads, take time to figure out your audience’s favorite social media platforms. Then, create ads with personalized copy and eye-catching designs that align with your audience’s interests, needs, and dreams.
2. Simplify the online research and buying process
Once you get a first-time buyer’s attention with your marketing material and online ads, they’re going to visit your website. Your job is to make sure your site allows them to seamlessly shop for, customize, and purchase cars. To make this easier, you may need to hire a web developer who can ensure the e-commerce side of your dealership is easy to navigate, understandable, well-designed, and equipped with everything potential customers need.
Also, consider implementing a live chat option for first-time car buyers to use when they have questions. By providing this option, you’ll give shoppers greater convenience and customer satisfaction. In fact, a recent report from Zendesk suggests that customer satisfaction ratings outperform email support, help center articles, and Twitter and Facebook support.
3. Complete DMV steps online
Going to the DMV is always a hassle. If you want to finish a sales transaction strong, don’t complete first-time car buyers’ DMV tasks in person—instead, take care of everything online. You can get titles, tags, and license plates for your customers online quickly and easily by using a private DMV services company like Barry Risk Management.
We have an online-only platform that helps dealerships get their customers’ tags, titles, and license plates in a timely manner. That way, their car buyers are happy, and their sales team is stress-free because they don’t have to interact with the DMV.
We work with auto dealerships across the U.S., so it doesn’t matter what state your business is in. With over 30 years of experience in the DMV industry, we know all the rules and regulations to follow to ensure your car buyers get everything they need without anyone having to visit the DMV.
Keep Up with the Times
The rise of Amazonification signals a shift in the way first-time car buyers will approach purchasing a vehicle. Auto dealers will either sink or swim, depending on their reaction to this change in shopping behavior. However, assuming you want your dealership to succeed, you can offer an online shopping experience to ensure you keep up with the times and experience long-term success.
Want a private DMV services company to get your customers’ titles, tags, and license plates? Call our DMV experts at 1-888-995-TAGS(8247).