How to sell cars online with live stream shopping

The Renault Group used a special approach to selling cars, as car sales have dropped in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. What’s the secret sauce? Live stream shopping and online car sales.

Listen to this post or read below:

New car sales have dropped by 20% in 2020

According to a study by JD Power and Motor Intelligence, new car sales have seen a 20% decrease in sales in 2020, with a low point of -46% YOY new car sales in April.

This means the auto industry and especially auto dealerships have taken quite a hit. The main culprits: restrictions, Covid-19 related health worries, uncertainty about future income.

Decrease in car sales in 2020

As such consumers have postponed planned purchases. However, the desire for purchasing new cars shows a quick rebound. However, the Covid numbers are still high. Automotive companies needed to find a way to replicate the in-dealership car sales experience, without endangering their staff and customers.

Car sales through live stream shopping

Some companies have taken bold approaches to selling their cars in times of trouble. One such company is the Renault Group. The company launched their new Dacia models (Stepway and Logan) in a live stream shopping session. For three days (2nd to 4th of December 2020), they’ve streamed a real-life presentation of the cars, using hired actors that were briefed on the car features.

Selling cars online
Using a virtual showroom, the company was able to replicate the real life shopping experience for their customers.

The company used a live commerce solution to manage their live showroom and allow customers to ask questions. The flow of information was interactive, from the presenters to the audience, with the audience asking questions that were answered in real-time.

This is one of the first online campaigns for car sales that involves a direct to consumer sales channel. Traditionally, consumers were unlikely to buy through the usual ecommerce sites, given obvious lack in experience features that would convert visitors so prospects or directly buyers.

What does this mean for the automotive industry?

Covid has accelerated the digitalisation of many industries and marketing approaches. Big ticket item sales, such as cars, jewellery or real estate have resisted using digital channels to reach their customers.

What Renault has proven in their Dacia sales is that anything can be sold online, with the right experience. We just didn’t had the right tools. Until now.

Selling and Marketing Cars Online – 5 Most Important Trends

People may not be (yet) buying new cars online but they sure spend a lot of time and energy researching their future purchases online. Remember the old cars salesman stereotype? Forget it. The new cars salesmen is the guy with the most positive online reviews, a stellar social media presence, hired by the friendliest dealership in town and quick to respond to his customers’ questions.

new-cars-online-stats1. Car buyers are in the market for 5.3 months. Mostly researching online.

Speaking of customers – those looking into buying a new car are in the market for roughly 5.3 months, as shown in this Cars.com research. During these months they check out:

  • information regarding manufacturers
  • information on car models
  • dealership information

Now when it comes to dealerships – you can be sure that by the time a customer sets foot in one he has probably read everything available online on:

  • company website
  • social media profiles
  • online reviews

Sometimes potential customers don’t even bother visiting their local dealerships if online reviews are not good enough. A curated online presence can do miracles for dealers as long as their service matches their marketing. Good service and reliability are still the most important factors when deciding what and where to buy. Recent online developments just make it easy for customers to find out the good and the bad about dealers and cars.

2. Photos sell cars. Reliable cars.

decision-to-buy-carWe all know how important photos are when buying cars. 63% of potential car buyers make their first steps towards a purchasing decision based on photos and other media. However, no dealer is going to make them pay unless esthetics are backed up by great reviews on reliability (52% new car buyers showed interest), features/colors (51%) and safety information (49%).

3. Mobile is used before, while and after purchasing a car

As mobile is quickly revolutionizing every aspect of our lives we were bound to use them on the spot, in dealerships, when making our final decisions. If you’ve used your smartphone in the dealership you can rest assured you are not alone – 43% of customers visiting dealers use their mobile device. Most frequent uses during dealership visits are targeted at:

  • pricing information (57%)
  • general information (22%)
  • vehicle information (14%)

So price checking really matters when visiting the dealer. It’s not a secret that any dealership will try to maximize its margin but that seems to be harder and harder with everconnected consumers.

Much more than this – customers will also check for user generated content on the spot. 79% of new car buyers value user generated reviews , as this CapGemini report shows.

The same report outlines some of the media channels buyers will scan to form an opinion. The big take away from the info below is that social media outlets (for both manufacturers and dealers) really matter when forming an opinion. Make sure that they are well set up and properly maintained.

infomation-checking

4. Customers connect to connected cars

options-connected-cars
Connected users need connected cars

There is a growing need for connected cars. I wrote about it a couple of months ago and now, with the new iOS 7 and recent developments in smartphone manufacturing customers seem to be getting what they want, when it comes to in-car smartphone support:

  • driving support
  • care information
  • remote support
  • communication
  • vehicle information

5. Women feel empowered when it comes to buying cars online

A big shift in car buying, especially when it comes to online-related purchases is the fact that women seem to be more and more engaged.

What has been looked at as a traditionally male influenced industry is shifting by the day and internet plays a large part in this shift. Women are big spenders when it comes to auto: they spend more than $200 billion yearly on new cars and car – care. They also influence over 80% of all new car purchases and account for almost 65% of all car service work done on dealerships.

These are some really, really big numbers and they just keep on increasing as women feel empowered to negotiate their prices behind a computer screen. Once a somewhat biased industry, the auto dealerships are leveled fields for both men and women and purchasing can now be fun and engaging for women. Feel like reading a little more about it? Check out Libby Copeland’s experience with buying a car online here.

In the end remember that:

  1. customers will research online their car options long before visiting a car dealership
  2. dealerships are (still) the ones to finalize the car sale
  3. unreliable car salesmen will soon be a thing of the past
  4. mobile is changing the way we buy cars
  5. women are quickly becoming the most important segment in car sales