Purchasing A New Car

Derrick Woolfson

I am about to end my three-year lease, and frankly, despite being in the industry for seven years it can be overwhelming! Here is what has stood out to me thus far: 

>Dealers still struggle with their mobile sites. In fact, most of them had overlays for chat/text that covered the VDP on mobile. Not to mention, it was hard to "filter" inventory. Wherein, when selecting "certified pre-owned specials" the landing pages mostly went to a form fill! This was over the Holiday weekend, too. So imagine what the average customer does when they click a special link and get sent to a form fill? They exit, as did I! 

>Several dealers were missing inventory on their specials page with some saying "check back soon." And for those dealers who did have a "specials page" with specials listed, several of them did not have actual inventory! So you had to "complete a form" to get the special. This is a problem. While it is quite normal to have a "creative graphic" for the special, it is suggested to have actual inventory listed underneath. 

>A lot of dealers photo's were terrible. Dirty exterior with a dirty interior, or worse blurry photo's! Then there were some dealers who had more than thirty photos but of the same thing. How many steering wheel and navigation photos does one need? 

There is a lot of discussion centered around "online retailing," but little action regarding the conversation. That is the refining of the customer's online experience regarding the VDP's to making sure the information on your dealer website is up to date and relevant. 

Has anyone else recently purchased a car? What was your experience? 


John Goll

Hey Derrick,

I have not purchased a car recently but I do mystery shops and focus a lot on the website and lead forms and can vouch that dealers sites are:

1) Cluttered and hard to filter

2) Not particularly mobile friendly

3) Only about 50% of the time do specials actually show up

Usually the photo's i've seen are passable but unless i'm scheduling a lot visit the sales rep or BDC rep won't answer my questions or fully engage with me. They just keep sending templated emails over and over without regard for my previous message and request for info.

For issues #2 and #3 my company has created a software that easily links our client's inventory to their respective specials pages on their website. So as long as the specials get marked in inventory, they will automatically be pulled with the images to the website. The software was built with a "mobile first" strategy behind it so it is responsive whether on a cell, tablet, or computer. We've seen a lot of success and virtually no down-time so the specials are always being shown and updated as the month progresses.

For the issue of cluttered-ness, dealers have to keep in mind; just because you can add something to a site doesn't mean you should. A clean site is always better than a site with endless pop-up displays. I've seen some that are so bad they give me anxiety just looking at them. I can't imagine what an actual shopper would think!

Derrick Woolfson

The sad part is that the platforms dealers are using - for the most part - are more than capable of being formatted correctly for mobile. However, very few dealers have someone who is experienced enough or has the wherewithal to manage their site. Then again, there are vendors out there who do not format their client's pages correctly either. 

Mark Rask

not being cluttered is a huge deal to me

Mark Malone

Couple of reasons.  1. Confusing back-ends to update.  2. Website customer service isn't that good, so problems don't get solved.  3. Specials and staff pages must be hand maintained, and when they're not, management catches flack or legal trouble for keeping content - so some just remove that content.  4. Lastly, some features are "plug in" vendors, and often aren't designed to go well together.  I'm sure they're others, but that is what I've seen.

Bart Wilson

How often do you recommend doing an audit of your online inventory?  Is it unrealistic to think that once per week the used car manager could do a spot check?  I feel like accountability is a big issue here. 

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