These days, vehicle shoppers spend sixty percent of their overall shopping time searching for vehicles online – nearly 15 hours in total. In addition, they’re visiting fewer and fewer dealerships before purchasing a vehicle.

In fact, most shoppers purchase a vehicle at the first dealership they visit! Because of this, walking in remains the most common initial point of contact between a vehicle shopper and a dealership.

Today’s shoppers want to communicate on their terms. They’re no longer visiting the dealership to find out information about vehicles, vehicle prices, or their trade-in value/equity. Instead, they visit 15 or more websites during their buying journey.

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Six out of every 10 vehicle shoppers are undecided about which car to buy when they begin their buying journey, so they’re turning to the Internet to find answers to their questions and narrow down their choices.

They spend 83 percent of their shopping time looking for answers to their questions on third-party sites. The question we must ask is:

What are they searching for on third-party websites that they can’t find on dealer websites?

Which Car is Best for Me?

Since 60 percent of car shoppers are unsure about what vehicle they should buy at the beginning of their journey, they narrow their choices by consulting someone or something they trust. Whether this is a friend, family member, blog, Facebook review, or website, shoppers tend to go to these sources first. They use this stage of their buying journey to consider a wider range of vehicles until they’re able to find a few they feel are good options.

Is It Right For Me?

This is when the vehicle shopper really focuses on the details of specific vehicles. They look for information that’s valuable to them, like if the vehicle will fit their lifestyle, hobbies, and needs. They use this stage to narrow down their search and find a vehicle that they are excited about.

Can I Afford It?

This is key. For vehicle shoppers, price isn’t everything, but it’s definitely an essential deciding factor to whether or not they buy a vehicle. During this stage of their buying journey, they are considering their budget and the financial consequences of purchasing the vehicle they’re interested in.

Where Should I Buy It

This is where things get interesting. All of these steps so far occur online for the majority of consumers. This part of the buyer’s journey brings them to a crossroads. They must choose a physical dealership to purchase the vehicle of interest. This is where they’re searching for a dealership near them that has the vehicle year, make, and model they have chosen during previous searches. The fact is, you need them to choose your dealership and you need to make sure you provide the online experience they need in order to do that.

Am I Getting a Deal?

Believe it or not, these questions happen on the lot. Why? Because it’s hard for a consumer to calculate exactly what they might pay for the vehicle they want, online. They have to come to a dealership to determine their exact trade-in value, incentives, and more. They ask these questions – and search for answers on their mobile phones – while they are at a dealership. Which means, they’re looking at competitor pricing to see if they can get the vehicle they want for a better price at another dealership.

How Can You Answer These Questions?

If you fail to give consumers the answers they want, in the time they need, and better than anyone else, vehicle shoppers will simply go somewhere else. Dealers need a strategy that will help them draw customers to their dealership, before they’ve discovered the answers to their questions elsewhere.

Ideally, a dealership’s website should answer all of the customer’s questions before they arrive at the dealership so that they don’t need to seek out the competition for more or better pricing options.

In addition, it’s worth mentioning consumer satisfaction – post purchase.

Are your buyers happy with the purchase process?

The answer is, yes, overall, but let’s take a closer look.

While vehicle shoppers are mostly satisfied with the purchase process at dealerships, there are two things that consistently rank lowest in satisfaction and experience: Interactions with the financing department and the length of the overall buying process.

Poor experiences with the financing department aren’t necessarily due to personnel. Vehicle shoppers are confused during this stage of the process and even anxious. The process is difficult, they’re spending a lot of money, making a big commitment, and it’s taking a long time.

As a dealer, the question you should ask yourself is: How can I make this process easier?

The length of the overall buying process at a dealership takes time and, in today’s immediate world, time is money. As a dealer, you will want to consider just how you can make the buying experience shorter, more fluid, and simpler for the customer.

They might not be able to fully complete a purchase on your website (yet), but you can provide more information online and shorten their time at your dealership in the process.

If you can figure out how to speed up your buying process from start to finish, you’ll have satisfied customers who enjoy purchasing vehicles from your dealership