Another ‘man bites dog’ example of when the world of online retailing ‘discovers’ that we like to try things out before we buy them (you know, like in shops?) got me thinking about what car showrooms – who’s pivotal role for their customers of having the product to try, is a pretty unbeatable advantage – still seems to get overlooked.
In a typical hyperbolic headline from The Drum “How try before you buy is going to revolutionize retail”, the author walks us through how important it is to mitigate the worry of buying online which “often feels like a gamble”.
More crucially is avoiding the disappointment of how something actually looks when it turns up and then the inconvenience of having to return it or suffer queuing hell at “the lines in stores”.
The other problem is one of time – although in this case it isn’t that we don’t have enough of it (often cited as another reason for our changing purchasing patterns) – because this time the complaint is of the time invested in search;
“This (buying journey) can be especially disappointing given the hours we now spend hunting, researching, watching reviews and tracking down an item…”
Clearly having invested both time and the confidence in making some specific choices, there’s nothing worse than not having that effort rewarded. And this certainly isn’t a dig at the digital world’s (re)take on retailing but a salutary reminder that the one thing a dealership can (could, should, must) do is make it as simple as possible to get prospective customers sat in (and out on the road with) the car they’ve come to see .
Edmunds.com conducted a poll in 2014 in which
“83% indicated they would love to avoid the haggle associated with purchasing a car in a dealership”.
So we’re not at the dealership because we enjoy that part of the process. More arrestingly (depending on how you like your stats, i.e. before or after breakfast)
“one in five said they would rather give up sex for a month than go through the traditional car-buying experience.”
Hmm. Now, there’s a challenge.
While it’s annoying, expensive and time-consuming an activity for a franchise (a bit like the handover, come to mention it), someone who’s visiting a dealership is pretty certainly there for a very specific reason. Most likely to try before they buy. There’s plenty of (digital) ways of making that simpler (online booking’s anyone?) but only one specific answer.
It’s time to stop making it so hard to try before you buy.