Automotive retailing has gone digital. And there’s no reversing out of it.
Whether that’s bad news or good depends entirely on how you’ve managed the transition, and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re in the industry and uneasy about all things automotive ecommerce, this blog’s going to help you keep pace with (and potentially even beat) top dealer websites.
But help how? Below are 7 ways – really, 7 tools – proven to supercharge online car sales and leave your competition, if you’ll forgive the pun, in the dust.
Get this automotive ecommerce tool #1: Chatbot
Chatbots sit first amongst automotive ecommerce tools for good reason: They’re engagement drivers. (You didn’t think the puns were done, did you?) Not to mention tireless sellers that nowadays have all the answers. This ecommerce tool is used worldwide on today’s most popular dealer websites because it automates the car sales process up to the point of an actual in-car test drive.
Pro tip: Automation in ecommerce isn’t something to be feared. It actually frees salespeople of earlier-funnel sales administration (O, the monotony!) and lets them focus on ready-to-buy, later-funnel page visitors.
French automotive icon Peugeot, a Serviceform customer, were quick to adapt to the current landscape of automotive digital retailing. Here’s their Serviceform chatbot in action:
Stylish company branding? Check. Attentive customer service? Check. Happy customers? Every single time.
Above, you’ll notice the car buyer being helped in real time. After viewing a specific model of car, the buyer wants to connect directly with a Peugeot customer service representative. Done. And also a feature expected of any best car dealer website! Because our Chatbot can help visitors narrow down what kind of car they want (think new or used, price, mileage, or location) and then cross-check those buyer preferences with what’s currently available, you’re likelier to convert that lead and schedule a test drive.
Pro tip: Chatbot customer convenience isn’t just about superior search; it’s also about superior content experience. Newer chatbots let users experience content how and when they want. In this way, chatbots are today’s website navigators, not your homepage and pretty submenus.
Take a moment to read about the bright future of chatbots from our CEO. But they don’t work their magic alone. Sometimes chatbots like to team up with other tools and our next tool is an evolution of exactly that!
Get this automotive ecommerce tool #2: Portal chat
Portal chat is a chatbot-live chat hybrid solution. Frankly, it’s another need-to-get amongst ecommerce tools for dealer websites. A chatbot answers questions, helps excited page visitors navigate sites faster, and – for the live chat component, can connect those same visitors to customer service personnel in real time.
Have you heard of Nettiauto or Tori.fi? These aren’t only Finland’s biggest marketplaces but also Serviceform customer hubs. And that’s because both use Serviceform’s portal chat as part of their ecommerce toolkit.
Because we’re talking about Serviceform’s Portal chat, you’ll immediately notice below our spot-on approach to company branding:
These portal chatbots appear on-page either when a visitor enters the automotive marketplace or when that visitor makes a specific on-page action – like clicking a car they like!
But dealer website customisation goes further than that. Serviceform Portal chat is noninvasive by design, not only mirroring any brand or page aesthetic it appears on but also able to show only after a certain amount of visitor time-on-page, or then when the user has started scrolling back up to page-top – a classic sign your visitor is about to leave. (Hint: Don’t let them!)
A jack-of-all-trades customer service tool, portal chat is really an engager that won’t let car buyers and sellers go ungreeted. There are thousands of cars competing with yours in online marketplaces, stand out with a warm welcome and a guiding hand.
When the portal chat experience begins for the visitor, so too does your lead qualification of that visitor. With their answering questions, viewing certain cars, and providing contact details – all from inside the chat, your company now has the building blocks to nurture that lead and convert them into a customer.
Now let’s switch e-gears to the live chat component mentioned.
Get this automotive ecommerce tool #3: Live chat
Live chat is what it sounds like: It’s a page visitor connecting with a real person in real time. But how it all works (and looks) varies from solution to solution, and dealer website to dealer website.
Serviceform’s Live chat is a standout in the ecommerce space for a few reasons. Yeah, we offer cool features for teams big and small, and also support video chat for proven higher conversion. But something even cooler is Serviceform cutting out any administrative middleman in connecting people. That means no email. And no game of hot potato with your customers’ contact info!
Our Chatbots get car buyers and sellers in touch with the assigned salesperson for this car, or that service – the one person (or team) who has the answers your website visitors need.
Pro tip: Our Live chat is proving a force in automotive ecommerce because it reduces the number of steps in the sales funnel. Adding to that, it delivers the familiar in-person or dealership experience of asking for help – but over the web.
Again, tools for ecommerce like live chat are all about improving online customer service when customers need that service – not after. In automotive ecommerce, being the best car dealer website takes more than being user-friendly. It takes being friendly with users. And live chat is one way to show that side of your business.
Because live chat lets salespeople better inform and guide car buyers specifically, the elephant in the room after visitor interest is always price. Automotive ecommerce has a tool for this very job called a car payment calculator. Also called a budget calculator, finance calculator, or auto loan calculator, let’s now talk calculators.
Get this automotive ecommerce tool #4: Car payment calculator
Another winning car sales tool is the car payment calculator. Few things make or break a deal like money, so getting this step in the car sales process right is key.
Car payment calculators help buyers figure how expensive (or inexpensive) a car they can get by tallying monthly costs in addition to any down payment. Check out the infamous ‘money moment’ below with Serviceform’s Raision Laatuautotalo Chatbot:
The takeaway here is not only the car buyer seeing their expected monthly payment for the exact auto they’re interested in, but that they’re doing all this conveniently inside the Chatbot. Awesome.
Car payment calculators when in-chatbot are proven lead converters because they inform buyers when interest in a specific car is highest. To be successful in automotive ecommerce, best adopted is always a car buyer (or seller) perspective of now, now, now.
Get this automotive ecommerce tool #5: Engagement bot
Speaking of now, now, now, let’s talk engagement and a little car dealer ‘carpe diem’ with an engagement bot.
Engagement bots don’t fit any one mould. Like chatbots, they’re an adaptable ecommerce tool. And that’s a good thing.
Sometimes called an inline bot (inline simply means it exists inside or alongside a greater text or section rather than existing outside which on its own), engagement bots can be embedded literally anywhere on a dealer webpage.
A chatbot that appears in the middle of a page, for example, and asks the visitor if they’re wanting to buy or sell a car can be an example of an engagement bot. Like this from RengasCenter:
Note the dual advantage RengasCenter has at play with our Engagement bot page-centre and Chatbot bottom-right. Smooth. Page visitors are being accommodated for whatever their needs. So why both? That difference is a good question.
Pro tip: The feature of engagement bots that differentiates them from chatbots, is you don’t have to open or click on an engagement bot to interact with it. If you think chatbots are too disruptive, this tool’s for you.
Depending on your brand and the web experience you want to deliver, engagement bots are an ecommerce tool that communicates with page visitors without them making any on-page action to start that communication. Just like car payment calculators inside Serviceform Chatbots, our Engagement (or Inline) bots not only look great but are proven high-percentage converters because of their drawing of user focus to page-centre without any webpage clutter.
So why engagement bots? Because a focused, undistracted page visitor is a visitor that makes decisions. And decisions mean sales. Get your own Engagement bot today:
Get this automotive ecommerce tool #6: Conversational landing page
Another ecommerce tool for dealer websites that also doubles as a conversation starter is a landing page. But not just any landing page: a conversational landing page.
As endorsed by Hubspot, conversational landing pages convert almost 4 times more than traditional landing pages. Again, awesome.
This ecommerce tool is designed with one goal in mind and that’s starting conversations.
Pro tip: Whether it’s 1922 or 2022, conversation hasn’t changed. It’s still people. Conversational landing pages are like talking to those people in your showroom as they flip through your catalogue. But today’s catalogues are all about cool images and video clips from the comfort of home. 😉
Traditional automotive landing pages are dedicated to a singular vehicle – but lack engagement in how information or offers for that vehicle are delivered. This is where the conversational part comes into play.
Sometimes also called a full-page bot, I’m going to let Serviceform customer Volkswagen do the selling on this one. Have a look at their conversational landing page below:
Nice, right? Volkswagen uses Serviceform’s Conversational landing page option for their Spain website. Every time a visitor clicks on a car they’re interested in, they enter into the landing page’s immersive, full-page experience. And this is possible for every vehicle on their (and your!) site.
Pro tip: However many vehicles you have in your inventory to move, you only need 1 Serviceform Conversational landing page from us for each. Not 400 full-page bots for 400 vehicles! Just 1. Talk to our landing page expert today and see for yourself:
From an automotive ecommerce point of view, conversational landing pages let every car in your inventory have the opportunity to step into, what I call, the ‘buy me’ spotlight. For dealer websites, it’s ecommerce tools like this that are real inventory movers!
Get this automotive ecommerce tool #7: Test drive form
Rounding out my top 7 automotive ecommerce tools is the one that takes leads from the digital driver seat online and puts them into the real one at your dealership. And that’s the test drive form!
Just one type of Serviceform’s many no-code Dynamic forms, the test drive form marks a final step in nurturing leads in today’s automotive digital retailing. Just like with the convenience of car payment calculators, potential buyers access the test drive form from inside our Chatbot and as part of a greater conversational flow.
Pro tip: Customer readiness to buy is never higher than when they’re booking a test drive. So when your buyers are ready, make sure you are too! Help them book test drives with ease and let our Dynamic form save your sales rep’s phone and email from blowing up.
Let’s return to French icon Peugeot for the Serviceform test drive form below:
Too easy. In only a few clicks, the test drive is booked and your lead has successfully converted. A salesperson will meet the potential buyer at the date, time, and location entered and from there, the salesperson can do their magic.
Getting digital in automotive ecommerce doesn’t have to mean hard. Nor do ecommerce tools have to mean expensive.
The above 7 tools are affordable – even saving you money given their ability to automate some of the car sales process – and with Serviceform, each is easy to use. (Heck, we even install them for you!)
Bigger though, each tool makes for a more informed webpage experience alongside better, what I call, ‘carpe diem’ customer service; it’s all in-moment engagement and conversations, remember?
In overview, 7 tools you’re possibly not using but should be to finely tune your website for conversion and accelerate sales are:
- Portal chat
- Live chat
- Car payment calculator
- Engagement bot
- Conversational landing page, and a
- Test drive form (Dynamic form)
If this is all too much at once, pump the brakes and remember: Leads that have what they need, convert. It’s that simple. Reverse-engineer what your customers need, find the ecommerce tools that do that for you, and start winning customers over.
Pro tip: For an automotive ecommerce survival pack, I’d say a dealer website chatbot that supports both a car payment calculator and test drive form make for competitive musts.
And if you’re unsure where your dealer website goes from here or are interested in seeing how your website could be doing better, book a time with us for a free website review: