How to Capture the Online Shopping Experience

Dominion Dealer Solutions online shopping image

How to Capture the Online Shopping Experience

In Part III and Part IV of this “Rocking Your Sales Funnel” blog series, two of the three key objectives dealers must tackle were addressed. As digital shoppers commence online research, it’s vital that dealers: 1) capture the search; and 2) capture the shopper. These require sound SEO, SEM, website, and inventory merchandising strategies.The third and final objective for automotive dealers is to capture the online shopping experience.

Capture the Shopping Experience

To appeal to higher funnel shoppers, some of the largest dealer groups are changing the way shoppers research. They are literally pouring millions into recreating the Online Shopping Experience, so that customers can find everything they want, when they want, how they want it — all from their own dealer website. But this opportunity is no longer just for the Top 25 dealer groups.

To begin, let’s walk through the typical path shoppers take today. Unfortunately, it no longer traces that direct customer-to-dealer relationship that the automotive industry used to enjoy. That luxury is gone. Instead …

  • Most begin at Google and click-through to one of the major, third party, marketplace sites. Of course, there are many dealers paying to merchandise their inventory here.
  • After visiting a few dealer sites, shoppers visit one or more OEM sites to review specs and compare options.
  • Before long, they begin reading reviews and ratings both on potential vehicles of interest as well as dealers with whom they might do business.
  • They hop over to Kelly Blue Book to value their trade. While their at it, they might research what other people are paying for the car they are thinking of buying.
  • And, of course, at some point, they go to their bank or Credit Union website to figure out how much they can afford to spend.

These sites are of value to our high and mid-funnel shoppers, but while customers are on them, they are nowhere near your website. These sites (and the path customers take bouncing from one to another) form a spider web that catches our shoppers, that distracts them from the dealer site, that challenges that 1:1 relationship. This needs to change.

Here’s the good news in two quick points:

  1. First, consider where shoppers are going. OEM sites. Third party sites. Review sites. If dealers can be among the first to provide this same information in one place, they can take back that traffic. They can take back that digital turf. Why?
  2. This experience, where car shoppers find everything on the dealer’s site, is an experience that they prefer.The latest data reveals that shoppers prefer to visit dealer sites for this data. Shoppers are looking for that one-stop experience and  they are happy finding that experience on the dealer website. The question is: “Are we ready to provide it for them?” If so, we must assist them in finding answers to their three main questions of research.

What is my perfect payment?

First, our shoppers are asking, “What can I afford?” What if, on your dealer website, they found helpful tools that assisted them to view the best inventory options based on a payment structure that THEY set up? Not just searching by payment, but shopping by payment. Using this approach, our dealers are already showing a 40% lift in organic leads — of which, more than 75% set an appointment and better yet, 80% of those appointments show.2

What is my perfect car?

Second, our high funnel shoppers are asking, “What’s my perfect vehicle?” What if, on your dealer website, you provided them with helpful tools that assisted them through a deep side-by-side comparison between various makes and models? This is the exact kind of research 70% of shoppers want at this stage in the funnel.3 Think they would spend more time on site? With deeper engagement?

How does my trade fit into the equation?

Finally, our shoppers want to know, “What can I reasonably expect for my trade?” So, what if, on your dealer website, shoppers found helpful tools that assisted them through a good faith trade valuation. More transparency. More information. More help. More trust. 

Shoppers are looking for a one-stop experience and they want it on the dealer website. The technology exists and is available for any size dealership. The question is: “Are you ready to provide it for them?”


  1. J. D. Power, 2015.  In the past decade, the percentage of online shoppers researching OEM sites has grown by 14% and third-party websites by 4%. The percentage of shoppers seeking their information from dealer sites is up 73%.
  3. AutoTrader
Dominion Dealer Solutions, Managed Marketing, Websites,
digital shopper experience, vehicle sales funnel,

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