On a recent Saturday night, I found myself engaging in an activity that 51 percent of Americans also pursue. I was online shopping – in my comfy clothes on the sofa. Part of this activity included research, checking different sites and gathering information about my purchase before clicking the "buy now" button.
According to firm BigCommerce, online shopping is booming. But not everyone is on board.
- 51 percent of Americans prefer to shop online
- 96 percent of Americans have made an online purchase in their life, 80 percent in the past month alone
- E-commerce is growing 23 percent year-over-year, yet 46 percent of American small businesses do not have a website
E-commerce trends by generation
- 67 percent of millennials and 56 percent of Gen Xers prefer to shop on online rather than in-store
- 41 percent of baby boomers and 28 percent of traditionalists, or the silent generation, will click to purchase
- Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50 percent as much time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours)
- Millennials and Gen Xers spend 6 hours per week shopping online
- Baby boomers spend 4 per week shopping online
- Traditionalists spend 2.5 hours per week shopping online
Why do I make these points? Because within the next 20 years, I expect the entire powersports buying process to take place online. It will look much more like an Amazon purchase model. Consumers will control the entire process and will have access to all information on motorcycles, F&I products and financing. By moving the sales and financing online, transactions will be streamlined and simpler. The online platform will also make it easier for dealerships to demonstrate transparency and accountability.
This is a very different approach from today’s dealership, which relies on customers walking into a physical location, test-driving bikes and negotiating price. Even if today’s customers conducts their research online, the majority of dealerships are not prepared to execute a completely digital transaction.
Preparing for 2037
While it feels like 2037 is a long ways away, 20 years will fly by. What steps can you take to make a successful transition from the dealership of today – to the dealership of the future?
Within the next few years, we’ll see powersports dealerships focus more of their efforts on customer service and providing a personal touch during the ownership lifecycle. You’ll find yourself becoming less focused on individual sales and more focused on consumer loyalty through servicing and maintenance. In fact, the entire nature of the powersports dealership will morph to become a service business first and a powersports business second. A bike will merely be one of the products you offer to support that customer.
To that end, your website becomes your showroom and your finance office. Already, consumers are no longer stumbling on the hidden bike that perfectly matches their personality in your store. They are looking at your inventory online before ever stepping onto your showroom. As the powersports dealership model progresses, online shopping will demand more than just a look at your inventory. It will demand a visibility into your consumer protection products and financing options.
Aside from your online presence, within the nest 20 years, it’s likely that the service drive will become your primary profit center. Think of the dealership of the future as a “contract” model, where consumers agree to two- to three-year commitments, performing all their servicing and maintenance at your dealership. To get to this point, strategic dealers will focus on the combination of value-driven consumer protection products and customer service strategies. This will help build consumer loyalty and spur the advancement of a more service-based model for powersports dealerships.
The powersports dealership of 2037 looks very different than today’s reality. But with a little planning – and an eye towards consumer buying habits – you can be that preferred powersports “site” with a loyal customer base shopping for their next bike in their comfy clothes.
Glenice Wilder is the vice president of Powersports for EFG Companies. A 33-year industry veteran, Glenice is responsible for growing and developing EFG’s action and powersports market channel. She combines her passion for motorcycles and her dedication to serving EFG’s customers to develop solutions that consistently exceed their expectations. Glenice acts as a strategic partner to assess her clients’ areas for improvement and how EFG can fill that role. She provides insight in how to increase productivity by pairing the right products within the right markets for the greatest return on investment.