Blog | 6 April 2017

The Automotive Ecommerce Experience

Buying a car, it seems, is still fraught with anxiety for many of us.

Contentology #23 – automotive

The abundance of choice and optional extras can make it a stressful experience, from the first tyre-kicking visit to the dealer, to the fear of being ripped off or signing up to something you may not need. Amazingly, generations of car owners have survived without soft-close doors or autopark, yet for some reason some of us still tick those boxes. Actually, if you need the help of autopark then you really shouldn’t be on the road.

So, no surprises then that a bunch of new and disruptive businesses are looking to make car buying as easy as buying a DVD on Amazon.

One company turning the sales model on its head is CarWow. CarWow asks you to tell it your requirements and it will get quotes and offers from the dealers on your behalf. You then simply pick the one that suits you best. Similar UK-based businesses include Roadster and Drive the Deal. You’ll find the approach stateside too.

Car manufacturers themselves are adopting this approach. Hyundai’s Click to Buy service does a similar job, albeit only for their own cars. Ultimately, it’s about delivering a level of personalisation and consumer control that wasn’t present in the market before.

Turning car-buying into an ecommerce-type experience brings its own challenges, particularly as the market grows. You might have first-mover advantage, but without an effective content strategy to support the service, you could see a fall-off in repeat business.

maxresdefault

CarWow, for example, is employing different content types across their communications. A number of editorial guides on its website aim to help with choosing, buying and running a car. Unfortunately, the content is a bit light and the guides don’t feel that informative.

Its blog is much better stocked and uses video content effectively, especially in car reviews. The downside is that it is not well promoted on the website. There is, however, a handy tool on the site which allows you to select cars based on specific requirements such as speed, efficiency, number of seats and so on.

CarWow’s reviews on its YouTube channel, and its Head2heads, which pit one make and model directly against another, are very engaging. There is some cross-promotion of this content on other channels, but it could arguably use this more effectively. It has a presence on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but the approach on each channel doesn’t feel joined up and lacks editorial direction.

Here are three important things to consider:

1. Think and act like a retailer A great ecommerce experience requires content. If the customer is never going to set foot inside a physical shop, the ecommerce experience for a purchase of this magnitude needs to deliver value. Guides, videos and how-tos are tried-and-tested content types. Ensure that they’re to hand as an option to assist throughout the car-buying process.

2. Provide an attribute-based shopping experience Most people have only a fleeting interest in, or understanding of, cars. According to the 2016 Car Buyer’s Study conducted by IHS, 70 per cent of new-vehicle shoppers are unsure about which vehicle. So, the key is to provide a car-buying experience that allows consumers to research vehicles based on the attributes that are important to them. This should help you deliver content that’s appropriate and relevant.

3. The journey starts online – and so should you A recent study by Accenture found that 80 per cent of drivers looking to buy a new car use the internet to research preferences and options. Social media and internet forums are also popular places to seek opinion. Your content needs to be easily found and well distributed. Social media channels and device neutrality are absolute musts.

Alex Marks
Alex Marks
Strategy Consultant

Alex supports the strategic development of River's business and acts as an experienced marketing partner for our client teams. He is a regular commentator, writer and conference speaker on a wide variety of digital,  marketing,  and content strategy issues.