What Is Digital Retailing?

By: Kristy Esch

Known for her many years of writing long and short form articles for the multifamily industry. Her amazing writing continues to shine in other industries.

In this day and age, online consumers are interested in doing things on their own — everything from research to consideration and in some cases, making a purchase. The majority of today’s consumers prefer everything to be entirely self-service. Because of this, many retailers and auto dealerships have embraced digital retailing.


Now, you’re probably asking yourself, just what the heck is digital retailing?


Digital retailing, at its the most basic level, is a series of experiences that allow consumers to easily maneuver and engage with your website at different stages of their purchasing journey. One website experience leads to the next and then to the next. Simple, no?


The overarching concept of Digital Retailing (if explaining to someone who has no knowledge of eCommerce) is simple, but that isn’t the case when you look at “Digital retailing” from the perspective of different industries and whether or not they’re an auto dealer or consumer.


For consumers making a standard retail purchase, digital retailing looks like this: a consumer looks for a particular item/service (for a varying period of time), adds said item to their cart, confirms the price and then completes the purchase with payment.


For consumers purchasing a vehicle, digital retailing looks like this: a consumer adds their vehicle of choice to the shopping cart confirming the price and completing a purchase with payment.


However, digital retailing might mean something different entirely different…


For some dealers and retailers, digital retailing means assisting consumers with the actual deal-making process (ex: filling out paperwork, signing up for a test drive, etc.) and then conducting the actual transaction face-to-face.


On the flip side, it might mean doing literally everything online and simply having a vehicle or product delivered to your home.After looking at these definitions, you might be asking yourself: which definition is correct?


“The reality is that they are both correct.” says EVP of Product, Stephanie Ragozzino. “But at PERQ, we know most customers aren’t ready to purchase a vehicle online. Today, the experience at the dealership is as critical a piece to the buying process as online.”


Digital retailing is heavily personalized based on a retailer’s business and financial goals. However, it’s important to understand that there are a few things will remain consistently true for any “type” of digital retailing method you subscribe to:


1. Digital retailing should be a connected experience (or series of connected experiences) that allows consumers to understand each step in the shopping process.

2. Consumers are in complete control over their journey and their destination. Additionally, they can start and stop at their leisure and start right back up where they left off.

3. Digital retailing is NOT a tool or widget, and it isn’t a bunch of different tools stitched together that aren’t connected and don’t remember the steps the consumer has already taken in their shopping process online. It shouldn’t just focus on the end of the funnel: consumers who are in the “buy phase” of their car buying journey.

4. Digital retailing experiences are made solely for the consumer in mind.


Here at PERQ, we encourage dealers to focus on catering to consumers who aren’t directly in the purchase phases, but rather, the discovery and research phases, too.With so many consumers conducting the majority of their research online, it only makes sense for retailers and dealerships to offer up online experiences that help consumers receive trade-in offers, calculate their payments and narrow down their decisions regarding the right type of vehicle for them. The shopping experience online should help the car buyer in all phases of the buying funnel.


Next week, I’ll discuss the importance of connecting digital retailing tools and the impact they have on the consumer experience. Read our article here.

Additional Auto Resources