When products are similar, sales process becomes crucial
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
DETROIT -- A fast, seamless and transparent car-buying experience increasingly will determine a brand's sales success, panelists from Google, Hyundai and TrueCar told the Automotive News World Congress.
Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of national sales for Hyundai Motor America, contended the 30-plus brands operating in the United States are very close on quality, cost and even styling.
What will tip buyers to specific brands will be how easy they make it for shoppers to find their vehicles online and get fair and accurate price information, and how well they respect the shopper's time and knowledge while moving the buyer through the entire purchase process, Zuchowski said.
"The consumer experience remains one of the few ways left for a brand to effectively carve out a sustainable competitive advantage that is exceedingly difficult to match," he said.
More than two years ago, Hyundai offered a subsidy to dealers to get on a uniform Web site that could update incentives and other information to their site whenever changes were made on Hyundai's corporate Web site, Zuchowski said.
That provides shoppers with consistent information whether they go to the factory Web site or the dealer sites, he said. Dealers like the program so much, he said, that more than 90 percent use that Web site as their primary consumer site.
A recent Google study reveals how much cross-shopping happens online and the many points at which buyers can change their minds about vehicles, said Kim Stonehouse, Google's automotive industry development manager.
Based on information from 10,000 vehicle buyers, Google found that 63 percent of new-vehicle purchasers begin their search with a specific brand in mind, but only 20 percent purchase the vehicle they first researched online. "It's clear that brand consideration can be won or lost at any point throughout this loop," Stonehouse said in an interview before her panel appearance.
Google, which jointly conducted the study with Compete and Polk, also found that shoppers spend 73 percent of their online time cross-shopping different brands and models, Stonehouse said.
TrueCar CEO Scott Painter said the online process is becoming so transparent that eventually there will be little difference in the price that dealers can fetch for the same model.
So dealerships must provide a quality and efficient process to coax shoppers into the showroom, then get the transaction done quickly.
TrueCar is a car-buying site that helps consumers learn about dealerships and provides a forum for dealerships to offer guaranteed vehicle prices.
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