40 percent or more of your website traffic comes from mobile. Are you ready?

You build a website thinking that customers will take the time to go to a computer and do their research. After all, they’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a new or pre-owned vehicle, so you want the experience they have on your website to be scalable, colorful and rich in content and tools.

And you’d be right. Your website must offer lots of brilliant content in a design that makes your cars shine, and with digital retailing tools you must connect the online world with your in-store shopping experience. It must be a digital conversion machine. There’s only one catch: That picture is changing, and fast. Today, according to comScore and Mobile Metrix, around 80 percent of people in the U.S. own smartphones.  So when it comes to car shoppers, it makes sense that many are actually using a smartphone, or tablet, to visit your site, search inventory and conduct those all-important first purchase steps. In fact, according to traffic on the Dealer.com network, more than 40 percent of visits to dealership websites come from mobile devices. That’s 4 out of 10 potential buyers looking at your inventory on a screen that could be as small as a business card.

Mobile shopping

That’s not a trend. It’s a fact.  Mobile shopping behavior will and is continuing to gain momentum, to the point that your sales and marketing solution must accommodate the differences. Check out this interesting article from Dealer.com on the most important differences between Responsive, Adaptive and Seamless mobile design. Part of that design approach must also include retail tools that help ease the process of conversion from shopper to buyer. It’s not enough to have a search- and user-friendly mobile experience; the same digital steps that dealers count on to help speed car buyers through the initial purchase steps of a website should do the same on the mobile equivalent. From searching inventory to calculating payment, checking realistic finance offers and trade-in values, these types of efficient digital tools – when designed correctly – are more valuable because they’re available when and how consumers want to shop, and when they want to buy. That sort of on-demand and mobile-first approach to digital retail is a significant difference maker.

“It is important for dealers to provide consistency across their sites and apps, no matter what device is being used to access the information,” says Ali Mendiola, senior manager of Digital Retailing Business Development for Dealertrack.  “Consistency isn’t only about the look, feel and information displayed on a site. Consistency is also critical when it comes to providing an online shopping environment. Just because a consumer chooses to use a mobile device does not mean they should be limited from moving forward through the shopping process.” Mendiola points out that too often, talk of a mobile experience ends at the research phase, when what dealers need is a complete package that includes mobile- and tablet-ready digital retailing tools.

Consumer convenience

From trade-in to finance, those tools empower shoppers to find the perfect vehicle, serve up pricing and payment solutions in line with your dealership criteria, and even provide trade-in offers based on your inventory needs. “These mobile tools make a big difference,” said Mendiola. The reason? Convenience amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life. The reality is that people want to complete more of the shopping transaction wherever and whenever they can – sitting in the carpool line before the school bell rings, between meetings, or waiting at the doctor’s office. Those spare 10 minutes are valuable opportunities to get shopping and research done.

“I know for a fact that I do not have the time to spend hours in front of a computer doing research or hours in a dealership showroom when buying a vehicle,” said Mendiola. “So why do we think other people do? Shoppers want the flexibility to complete as many steps as possible online via whichever type of device they wish to use, when it’s convenient for them. Dealers and their staff, as a result, have to be ready. Those that are ready will improve sales and the overall buyer’s experience.”