The Truth About Data

The Truth About Data
What are the numbers really telling you?

Before we start buying into reported figures and statistics, it’s essential that we know the rest of the story.

Over the past few months, anytime I’ve had the chance to attend a conference or event, I’ve tried to catch sessions on digital retailing. As “marketing attribution” is already flaming out as the trendy buzzword, digital retailing is coming on strong.

Not only are the vendors talking about it, or presenting on it with great frequency, but many companies also seem to be pivoting their offerings to more of an online transaction focus. “We’re doing digital retailing, but we’re a little different than everyone else,” says everyone.

There are several studies out there. Sample size audiences surveyed to support compelling arguments why you should be pushing all your chips into the digital retailing game, and simple quick fixes for your process that you can implement at the dealership level so you can compete for the ever-evolving online shopper. I love data. I love that it validates a position or argument, and I love process. Without either there’s a grey area and chaos. Most of all, there are missed opportunities.

So, as I sat in these sessions, I used my handy smartphone to look further into the truths about this data and the ease of process implementation that you’re not being told. Now let me be clear— no one is spreading false information out there. They’re just not closing the loop on the data or the realities of the showroom.

Truth 1

• 83% of consumers want to do one or more steps of the purchase process online

Every session I attended this was the hero stat. How can you not be impressed? However, I still think the statistic is vague. Out of the 83% how many only wanted to do one step online? How many wanted to do two? What are the total number of steps front to back to complete the purchase process online? Is there a benchmark?

As I looked at this study further I thought this rounded out the “first truth” a little better. These were the things that most weren’t sharing:

• 71% wanted to get information about the deal (prices, warranties, add-ons, trades)

• 51% liked structuring their deal on the dealer’s website

• 43% preferred an online option to understand and secure financing

So, while 83% seems like the number we need to focus on, I think it’s more compelling that barely over half surveyed wanted to work their deals online rather than at the dealership. Which is a great segue into…

Truth 2

• 89% want to review & sign their deals in the dealership

Break that down a little further and 64% wanted to review and sign in store whereas 25% wanted to review online and sign in store. Legally, they must finish their deal at the dealership, yet in none of the sessions was this shared. The core reason customers want to be at the store to “review” their deals is because those reviews include a test drive. It’s simply too great a purchase for the average shopper to just bypass this critical step.

• 80% would never purchase without a test drive

Based on our almost 30 million data points from our client’s showroom transactions, the closing ratio of all opportunities that do not test drive is 1%.

Digital retailing can’t get you behind a wheel nor can it finish the entire process. So for the sake of selling digital retailing products it’s a piece of data that doesn’t help their efforts. So out of sight, out of mind if you happened to catch a session on the topic.

Truth 3

• Dealership staff are valuable consultants—62% still want help from dealership staff even if online purchase options are available.

It seems that while we’re being told that customers want more flexibility in how they shop and prepare their deal online, they still need a trusted party to work with them at the dealership once they are ready to get in for test-drives and meetings to finalize their deals.

This seems simple enough, and many speakers explained that by utilizing the right technology (tablets, for example) while with the customer, your dealership’s processes don’t have to be blown up and rebuilt.

I went across Canada last fall surveying dealers on their perceived daily CRM usage, already knowing the averages based on Nextup’s data. I was surprised how many already knew how low it was. On average dealership staff spend a total of 10 to 20 minutes a day in their CRM.

So, while it’s easy to say there’s “easy ways to evolve digital retailing without changing process,” you absolutely must. If your staff isn’t engaged in, or adopting tech they should be using thoroughly everyday, why would you even think about throwing more tech at them?

These truths just keep telling me what I believe dealerships should be focusing on—people and process first, tech second. Customers need your showrooms, they need to test-drive, they need to build relationships with you and your staff. They need to feel that they made the right choice. Your websites and their smartphones start the journey, but it’s your people who create and manage relationships.

If we are in the “people business” as many dealers say, then it’s time to really ensure that the customer experience matches the customers’ expectations as they walk through your doors.

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