The speed and convenience of Amazon Prime has shaped consumer mindsets. In a recent IBM study, 81% of individuals demanded faster response times from retailers, and 68% expected frictionless purchase experiences. Although brands are showing flexibility in addressing these changes, many automotive brands struggle to adapt due to regulations. Tesla is the only brand in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Auto that overcomes the red tape through online direct-to-consumer sales, though the brand still faces dealership pushback in 48 states.

Ford recently announced its Ready.Shop.Go platform, joining GM (Shop.Click.Drive) and Hyundai (Shopper Assurance) in providing online vehicle shopping tools that take a dealership-partnership approach. The three brands allow customers to complete most of the vehicle purchase process online, and only involve dealerships for subsequent payment and pick-up. Yet although these brands’ online services support innovative features like at-home test drives, vehicle deliveries, and speedy credit checks, consumer adoption remains low. GM’s Shop.Click.Drive has existed since 2013, but only makes up 1% of total sales.

The lack of promotion on brand sites may be the main culprit for the program’s deficient popularity. Of the four GM brands, only Chevrolet features Shop.Click.Drive on its homepage. GM’s inconsistent digital efforts are also visible in other core areas of its sites. For example, its brands’ dealership locators and inventory pages are missing key touchpoints such as “Schedule a Test Drive,” “Contact Dealer,” and “Request a Quote.”

Auto brands

Nevertheless, auto brands recognize the importance of streamlining the dealer handoff process and capturing relevant user data along the way. Currently, 35% of brands provide on-site dealer-contact webforms (up from 28% in 2017), and more brands link to dealerships directly from local inventory and vehicle information pages, according to L2’s Digital IQ Index: Auto.

As automotive sales decline, online vehicle purchase touchpoints may entice customers. However, cohesive digital marketing efforts are what ultimately enable campaign effectiveness and drive customers to the brand.

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