A changing consumer shopping experience

By Neil Pascale

When you opened the dealership doors on Jan. 1 to a new year, did you pause to consider the change? The change that has swept this industry — not to mention every other retail sector — compared to just two short years ago?

It wasn’t the product in your shop. Oh sure, there has been change there, but not dramatically so.

It wasn’t the people entering your store to check out that product. We’re primarily the same demographic we were two years ago — middle-aged males.

No, the major difference from two years ago isn’t your shopper or your inventory. It’s how the two come together. It’s how one discovers the other.

And it is massively different.

Mobile technology is redefining the retail shopping experience. Heck, it’s redefining everything. It’s convenience wrapped up in a box that fits in our pocket. It’s instant information. Instant gratification. Sorry pet lovers, but man’s best friend no longer comes with a flea collar.

The question is: What are you doing about it? How are you changing the dealership to reflect this mobile infatuation of ours?

Most often, I don’t hear mobile retail solutions, just oodles of crabbiness about it. Like, “I can’t believe I just spent 30 minutes with that guy, and I leave to get him some coffee, and I come back he’s price-shopping us.”

Well of course he’s price-shopping you! After all, you didn’t give him an alternative. Why not text him a link to a magazine’s review on that unit so he can browse that while you’re getting him some coffee?

Please understand — thinking somebody is not going to use his or her smartphone in a shopping experience is simply crazy. You might as well ask a kid not to touch anything in a toy store! They’re going to. The question is: Can we shape that experience for them?

The answer is: Yes we can, but only if you’re proactive. Only if you expect the smartphone — not cringe at it! — at some point in the conversation.

Get this: Two years ago, of the millions of page views experienced on the powersports industry’s largest classified listing site, CycleTrader.com, only about 10 percent came from mobile devices. Today, it’s exceeding 40 percent! Can you imagine what it will be by the end of 2014?

Mobile usage is simply astounding. Were you aware we now spend more time per day on our mobile device than our TV? Truly. (Check this out — http://bit.ly/16R8LMU — if you don’t believe me.)

All of which means mobile now needs to be considered and accounted for. Yes, in your sales process on the showroom floor. And definitely in your online marketing.

Remember the last time you were shopping for a store website and the mobile version of the site was addressed as a benefit? Like an add-on, i.e. an aftermarket accessory to a new unit. With more than 40 percent of our online views now coming on mobile devices, mobile capabilities are a heck of a lot more than just an add-on now.

A number of technology heavyweights in different retail sectors are now using “responsive web design,” a fancy tech term that speaks to an improved mobile experience. Responsive technology adjusts a website to the size of a device, making sites on a smartphone or a tablet easy to navigate. The finger gymnastics of shrinking or stretching a website on a mobile device will be a thing of the past with this technology, which is now reaching the powersports industry.

Open your dealership doors this year and consider the change that’s upon you: Mobile is as much of the shopping experience as the wallet is.

Understand that. Understand that this change in the shopping experience is not going away. It’s just building, and doing so at an astonishing speed.

Consider: It took 13 years for TV to reach 50 million people. Facebook did that in 3½ years. How long did it take a game application to reach 50 million users on mobile devices?

Fifty days.

Neil Pascale is the Business Development Manager for Dominion Powersports Solutions, a dealer service company that includes Power­Sports Network, Cycle Trader, Traffic Log Pro, Ziios and Dominion Insights. He can be reached at neil.pascale@dominionpowersports.com.


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