5 Automotive Retail Tips to Enhance the Mobile Customer Experience

10 min read

It’s likely you’ve already made plenty of changes to your automotive retail marketing strategies — including switching your focus to digital initiatives.


But, as studies have revealed, there’s a good chance you’re not moving fast enough to accommodate consumer needs — especially when it comes to the mobile shopping experience.


Here are a few statistics that give a hint of what the future holds for the automotive dealer.


  • Consumers spend 60% of their car buying process online (5 hours and 12 minutes)
  • 88% of consumers use the internet to shop for a vehicle
  • 46% use multiple devices, including smartphones, during the car buying process
  • 14% only used a mobile device for their search
  • Certain demographics shop primarily on mobile devices: These include Millennials (45%); consumers with household incomes of $200,000 or more (41%); and Hispanics (48%), according to Facebook IQ.

Enhancing the Mobile Experience

Despite their preference for shopping for cars on mobile devices, however, these consumers aren’t necessarily enjoying the experience.


According to a Facebook IQ survey, more than 7 out of 10 mobile-first consumers said they were overwhelmed by the amount of information available — but not the right type of information.


Based on their online research experiences, they were three times more likely to say they found it difficult to find what they were looking for compared to other consumers who used other devices. As a result, they weren’t confident about their decisions.


About 65% of mobile-first consumers believed they could end up making the wrong decision.

Gear Up for a Mobile-First Approach

automotive-retail-image-2-768x768While much attention has been paid to the overall topic of e-commerce, there is a steady shift to what’s happening with mobile commerce — shopping on a mobile device, particularly a smart phone.


According to Business Insider, this trend toward mobile shopping is poised to take a larger share of the automotive retail industry. Businesses need to make changes to accommodate the desire for mobile shopping, meeting the demands to enhance the experience.


“The mobile shopping experience is a nightmare,” according to author Andrew Meola. “Users get so frustrated when trying to shop on their phones that they far more often than not abandon the process.”


Statistics show that American adults were spending nearly 60% of their time researching on mobile devices in 2015. However, they only spent 15% of their money on mobile. Some of the roadblocks cited included the inability to easily navigate and read details.


Although most buyers are not yet buying cars completely online, there is a rising interest in that type of transaction.


According to an Accenture survey of 10,000 consumers, 62% said they were using some type of digital technology to research during the car buying process. Also, 75% said they would be open to completely taking care of the entire purchase online.

Automotive Retail Tips to Gain Your Share of Mobile Shoppers

automotive-retail-image-3-768x768Dealerships can move toward developing a more user-friendly mobile shopping experience in the automotive retail space. It requires adapting to the way that consumers are searching for information.


1. Design a Mobile-First Website.


Hire website designers and developers with success in developing websites with a focus on mobile user experience. The design should include a review of how a car shopper will navigate your website to reach their goals — from browsing inventory to getting a clear understanding of financing options.


Visitors should be able to quickly figure out where to go when visiting your site — New Cars, Leasing, Used Cars, Specials, Financing, Service, Payment Calculators, etc. The ability to sign up for more valuable information should be simple and straightforward. Give users numerous form options throughout the website. Buttons should be bold and highly visible.


Test the site to see how easy consumers can complete those tasks. As Google recommends, make sure your automotive dealership provides a unified experience across platforms.


Along with easy navigation, make sure that the website also is developed to load content fast — a consumer doesn’t want to wait for your site to interfere with their ability to quickly search vehicle options and details.

2. Get in Front of Buyers Early.


About 60% of car shoppers will spend an average of six months shopping for vehicles. In the early stages of that period, they haven’t quite determined the exact make and model of that vehicle.


According to Facebook IQ, those consumers will include 2.5 vehicles among their top considerations. However, they reported getting more exposure to ads leading up to the last month before their purchase — when they have already decided on the type of vehicle they want.

With PPC (pay-per-click) advertising designed for the earlier stages of the car buying process, your automotive dealership could be the first to make an impression. As part of your advertisements, make sure you’re highlighting the tools on your site that can help your buyer get closer to a decision.

About 60% of car shoppers will spend an average of six months shopping for vehicles.

Interactive experiences that provide an entertaining experience at this stage can go a long way in giving car shoppers a positive view of your dealership. In addition to helping them narrow their choices, you can get the customer data you need to tailor a nurturing experience for these buyers.


Again, always keep in mind the mobile experience when designing ads and interactive experiences. They should be easy to navigate from a wide variety of smartphones.


3. Be Upfront with Pricing.


Don’t hold back on details like cost, mileage, interest rates, and financial arrangements. Vehicles rank among the costliest purchases a person will make in their lifetimes. It’s best to recognize the importance of those factors, and don’t try to hide information out of fear of turning off potential buyers.


Before arriving at your automotive dealership, consumers have spent plenty of time online researching options. But many — a full 23 percent — will continue to research even after arriving at your dealership, according to a study compiled by IHS Automotive for Autotrader.

4. Tailor your Content for Mobile.


It’s likely you already condensed the content on your website. Condense it even further to make it easy for mobile users to read content on your site. In the car buying journey, visuals of the vehicles should be of primary importance. Next, focus on the pertinent details — such as car details and price. Those details should be easy to see on small screens.


Keep forms uncomplicated as well. Give the consumers the ability to simply check boxes to indicate their preferences, including vehicles and how soon they’re in the market to purchase. Use trade-in appraisals as another entry point for obtaining contact information.


5. Use Video more Liberally.


Think about this statistic: One-third of the time spent online is devoted to watching videos. That number is expected to increase, according to a report by HubSpot.


Use video for other purposes besides showcasing vehicles. You can feature one of your sales reps or a financing expert who is great at explaining the details of a lease or interest rates.


Again, make sure this type of content loads quickly. According to a Google study, 4 out of every 5 users will click away if the loading process stalls.


Thinking Mobile


Meeting consumers where they are is essential in the car-buying process. As more and more consumers shift their purchasing behavior to smartphones and tablets, it’s critical that you take the steps to be in the right place at the right time with the right experiences.