Dealership websites need improvements, survey says. U.S. drivers indicate that auto dealerships have a long way to go in providing the online information and digital tools that would make online car buying seamless, according to a recent study by Accenture, a worldwide management consulting firm. And nearly all (94%) of these respondents indicated they’d consider making their entire vehicle purchase online — including financing, price negotiation, the back office paperwork and home delivery — if the online process were easier.
According to results of the digital marketing survey, which polled 1,000 drivers, respondents would like dealerships’ websites to provide:
A way for car shoppers to compare additional options within the same automaker’s product line (95%),
- Easier and clearer pricing (91%),
- A simpler way to configure a vehicle (88%),
- Access to more simplified information (74%), and
- The ability to chat online with a dealer (70%).
Additionally, 79% of respondents thought that the auto sector was lagging behind other retail sectors in the use of digital media tools, such as video and 360-degree website tours. Of those who said they research vehicles online before buying, 89% said they had to visit six websites or more before getting the information they needed. And 33% said they had to browse more than 20 websites to get the data they were after.
Watch out for “drip pricing” in your advertisements
Auto dealerships are being cautioned to have all of their advertisements reviewed for compliance with applicable federal and state advertising standards. The regulatory affairs office of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) recently distributed an e-mail reminder following warnings by the Federal Trade Commission to 22 hotel retailers about the prohibited use of “drip pricing.”
The FTC defines drip pricing as “a pricing technique in which firms advertise only part of a product’s price and reveal other charges later as the customer goes through the buying process.” The additional charges are sometimes portrayed as “convenience” or “service” fees and can include mandatory charges for optional upgrades and add-ons.
Some auto dealerships may have engaged in drip pricing by, for example, failing to disclose in their advertising internal administrative fees or fees to file state paperwork that they impose. The FTC letters to hotel retailers encourage the companies to review their websites and ensure that their ads don’t misrepresent the total price consumers can expect to pay.