Embracing the digital path to purchase

Colleen Malloy BlogHow do your customers shop? Chances are their shopping behaviors have evolved a lot in the last 20 years. Instead of flipping through the phone book to find your number, today’s shoppers are using the Internet to thoroughly research products, check out reviews, browse social media, look at third-party sales sites and more to make buying decisions and find a dealer.

Your digital marketing efforts are crucial in helping you reach your customers where they’re shopping – on the Internet. By taking advantage of search engine optimization, maintaining strong social media profiles and optimizing your website, you can help turn casual shoppers into loyal customers.

Keep reading for some tips on how to amp up your digital marketing efforts to reach your customers throughout today’s evolving digital path to purchase.

Online Research

Today’s shoppers want to know as much about a product as possible before purchasing it. According to Google, a whopping 87 percent of customers will do online research before visiting a store. The majority of them — 63 percent — use mobile or tablet browsers according to Baynote. They use search engines, review sites, social media, third-party retailers and YouTube to learn about products and retailers.

Shoppers want to make sure they’re spending money on the best product for them, and they want to buy it from a reliable dealer.

There are a handful of things you can do to make sure you’re reaching shoppers at this stage:

  • Have a search engine optimization strategy to help your page rank higher in organic search results
  • Run pay-per-click ad campaigns for your most popular products to get your site in front of more searchers
  • Maintain a strong social media presence by posting a mix of industry news and dealership information on your preferred social profile and promptly respond to or interact with customer comments
  • Post your inventory on third-party retail sites like eBay and Craigslist
  • Upload videos of your inventory to your dealership YouTube channel to allow shoppers to take a virtual look at the units you have in-stock

Your Website

Once shoppers have finished researching, they’ve likely decided on what product they want to buy. The next stop on the digital path to purchase is visiting your website to see if you carry it. Your website is the first impression many shoppers will have of your dealership, so make sure it delivers! If your site is difficult to navigate or doesn’t have the information they’re looking for, a potential customer might get frustrated and go to your nearest competitor instead.


To make sure shoppers are getting the most out of your website, make sure it:

  • Lists your inventory along with pricing and availability
  • Displays your online and in-store deals, events and promotions
  • Recommends additional or related inventory
  • Prominently showcases your dealership’s location and contact information

In-Store Shopping

When your customers finally set foot in your dealership, it might seem like the research process is over, but that’s not the case – Google says 79 percent of in-store shoppers conduct research online while in stores. This practice is called webrooming, and these shoppers use search engines, the retailer’s – or competitor’s – website or app and other types of sites to learn more about products while browsing in-store.

You can make the in-store shopping experience a good one for these shoppers by:

  • Providing free in-store WiFi
  • Having a dealership app that helps shoppers find items and learn more about them
  • Making sure your website is mobile-friendly
  • Approaching webrooming shoppers to answer any questions they may have

In-Store Purchase

Once they’re ready to buy, your customers are likely to return to your store to make their purchase. A total of 80 percent of small business purchase are still made in-store according to Google. But what about that other 20 percent? Many of today’s shoppers prefer the convenience of online shopping. Busy schedules and other factors might prevent a shopper from returning to your store to buy.

Increase your chances of capturing these sales by:

  • Having an online shopping cart feature on your website
  • Allowing customers to order large unit items online and pick them up in-store
  • Offering free shipping
  • Creating promotions specifically for your online store

Becoming a Loyal Customer

Once you’ve sold a shopper their dream snowmobile or bike, you can keep them coming back by staying top-of-mind by using customized promotions. Send marketing emails or text messages advertising sales on accessories they might need, showcasing the latest and greatest models or giving them a special deal, like 10 percent off their next oil change.

If your dealership has its own app, send push notifications to let them know about in-store events and promotions. You can also offer discounts or promotions exclusively for users of your app to encourage your customers to download it and interact with it.

With the majority of today’s shoppers using the Internet to research and even buy products, understanding the customer journey and having a top-notch digital marketing strategy to complement it is key.

Want to learn more about the digital path to purchase? Join me for ARI’s next HelpForce webinar, “The Complex Buyer Journey”, on Thursday, March 17 from 3:00-3:30 EST.

Colleen Malloy is ARI’s director of marketing. Malloy has more than a decade of experience in the powersports industry and previously served as the editor of Motorcycle & Powersports News. ARI creates award-winning software solutions that help equipment manufacturers, distributors and dealers Sell More Stuff! — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in automotive tire and wheel, powersports, outdoor power equipment, marine, RV and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website and eCatalog platforms to Sell More Stuff!

Email: colleen.malloy@arinet.com

Phone: 414/973-4323

Website: arinet.com

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