SELLING a car is no longer a nine to five, Monday to Friday job. Gone are the days when customers came to dealerships wanting to have a brochure or some information about a car. Instead it’s all about customers being mobile and dealers recognising this and embracing it.
This was just one of the issues that are facing dealers, advertising companies, and car manufacturers at this present time, and an issue that was discussed at Google’s Think Gearshift conference.
Dealers have known for years that customers are using the Internet to do their research about their next car, even comparing dealer against dealer for the very best deal. Importantly, though, customers were doing this in their free time in the comfort of their own homes.
‘The UK will be the hot-bed of mobile internet. By 2015 Britain will lead the way in smart phone penetration in Europe’
However, times have changed – and have changed fast. ‘As of 2011, there are more than 16 million mobile phone users in the UK alone,’ said Google’s mobile industry manager, Stephany van Willigenburg. ‘One in five people have mobile internet access on their phone, and one out of every four internet minutes is spent on a mobile phone. ‘It’s only going to grow too. We’ve already seen in quarter four of 2010 smart phones outselling PCs for the first time ever. By 2013 mobile internet users will exceed desktop users, and by 2015 mobile searches will overtake desktop searches.’
That’s not all, either. The UK will be the hot-bed of all of this mobile internet action, with Google predicting that by 2015 the UK will lead the way in smart phone penetration in Europe. The UK’s penetration figures will far exceed those of Holland, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.
The result of this is inevitable – customers can access dealers’ websites and do research anytime and in any place. ‘We’re already seeing mobile phone usage being greater at times when desktop computers are off. Early in the morning, during the morning and evening commutes, and late at night mobile phone usage far exceeds that of desktop computers, meaning that consumers are online virtually of the time.’
And do not think van Willigenburg is just talking about consumers surfing for Jeans, shopping, and online music. Automotive searches on mobiles in the UK has risen by a whopping 134 per cent year-on-year since 2007, and automotive Smartphone searches are 426 per cent higher than those made on WAP phones. ‘Interestingly – quite against what we expected – mobile users are far more likely to make two word searches rather than desktop users. The latter users favours one word searches, which means they are less likely to find what they are looking for as quickly as mobile users.’
’40 per cent of mobile users admit to using a mobile app on dealers’ forecourts’
Perhaps, more worrying for dealers though, is that Google estimates 40 per cent of mobile users have used a mobile app on the dealer’s forecourt. This means that if they are not happy in what they’re seeing on your forecourt, they will go online on their mobiles to find a car or dealer that does make them happy.
However, van Willigenburg did have some good advice for dealers to make themselves more mobile-savvy. ‘The first thing is to make sure that your website is mobile-compatible and that it works for online users – if it doesn’t consumers will just go elsewhere. The second thing that dealers need to get into is QR – or Quick Response – codes.’ These small, two-dimensional codes can carry encoded data and text about dealers’ stock from the car’s colour and price, to the dealer’s contact details. ‘Traditional adverts in newspapers aren’t portable, but these are. The technology is far from new, but the way of using it in the car industry is.’
‘The third thing that dealers need to embrace is Google Places. Every dealer can update their Google Place which is the dealer’s own page showing where they are, their contact details, and customers’ reviews.’ Do these and you’ll be helping yourself in a mobile world.
Nissan Insider has put together this quick check-list for Nissan dealers to carry out. They’re simple tips, but very effective.
– Make sure your website is mobile. Customers want to search your site while they are on the move.
– Investigate QR codes – or Quick Response codes. Dealers can use these by making them ‘portable’ versions of the traditional advert in the local paper.
– Embrace Google Places. It’s your own page with you contact details and shows any customers’ reviews of your dealership. Do this, and you can help customers find you.