The automotive industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Even longtime automotive executives like Bob Lutz think dealerships are ultimately doomed. And auto retail isn’t alone. Retail as a whole is in the midst of a crisis, with brands like Toys ‘R’ Us, American Apparel, and Claire’s declaring bankruptcy, and others like Sam’s Club, Macy’s, CVS, and J.C. Penney shuttering thousands of stores across the nation.

What does it take to survive the retail apocalypse, or the “Retailpocalypse”? Fortunately, car dealers have a little time to gear up. Car ownership is still king and 81% of customers still want to try before they buy. Start your “doomsday” prepping now with these 3 survival basics and pave your road to future success.

1. Plan and Prepare

The winds are changing. Millennials, one of the fastest growing segments of car-buyers, are used to testing in-store, then buying online. 75% visit the store to see a product, then go home and purchase it online.

Your website may be your only chance to make a good impression and get a customer into the showroom. The more buttons, lead forms, chat pop-ups, and other “calls to distraction” you have, the less likely shoppers are to take the next step.

Shopping patterns will continue to change as new companies, technologies, and even other industries shape consumer habits and expectations. Plan your survival strategy and prepare for changes in the market.

2. Gear Up

What equipment would you take with you in an apocalypse? The right gear can mean the difference between surviving… or not. Dealers that combine ecommerce with other selling tools and strategies increase profit per vehicle by $700 or more, driving significantly better results than dealers that treat ecommerce as a stand-alone tool.

83% of customers want to do more of the process online, making ecommerce an essential tool for future success. Disruptive startups like Beepi may have failed, but car dealers, with their industry expertise, are uniquely positioned to unlock the full potential of ecommerce in auto retail.

Use all your communication channels to build awareness and educate customers about ecommerce. With the combined power of marketing and ecommerce, you’ll multiply your results. Choose the right gear, and paving the road to success will feel less like the end of the world and more like an invigorating adventure.

3. Master Your Tools

You’ve got the right equipment. Now it’s time for your team to master these tools. Ecommerce isn’t just for online shoppers who know exactly what they want. It can also bring shoppers closer to the sale.

Your BDC team is on the front lines engaging potential customers and can be the key to winning the deal. Train your BDC team to show customers how convenient it is to buy online, and your BDC staff can convert internet and phone leads directly into orders.

If shoppers aren’t ready to buy in the showroom, let them “couch” their own deal from home. They’ll be more likely to add upgrades and accessories since they can review them at their own pace, increasing your F&I profit per vehicle by $700 or more. With the right tools and training, your team will become an unstoppable force, increasing sales and profits no matter what the market throws your way.

Seize Your Opportunity

The “Retailpocalypse” has yet to truly reach automotive retail yet. Car dealers that seize this opportunity to prepare for the challenging road ahead will be the ones that survive.

Learn more about getting the right online retailing tools, and the training to help you maximize ecommerce, request a demo.

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