Dealers Must Adapt To Mobile Millennials


If you aren't reaching Millennials on mobile devices, you probably aren't reaching them. That is no less true in the auto sector, particularly when prospects are within a stone's throw of purchase. Unfortunately, a lot of dealerships subscribe to the old-school philosophy: if research starts online, consideration and choice still happen in the showroom.

Clayton Stanfield, senior manager of dealer training at eBay Motors and a former dealership Internet sales manager himself, says things are changing when it comes to how dealerships are handling prospects. "It used to be about turning leads into showroom traffic, so you'd hold back information to bring them to the showroom," he says. "But I think because of digital, consumers are so far down the purchase funnel when they reach out that all they want to do at the dealer is take delivery. 'I don't want to do all this research and then go to a dealership and take four hours there.'" 



He adds that eBay Motors is in the process of teaching dealers not to force younger shoppers into these circumstances, but to focus on convenience. "The main role now is to make the process as painless and enjoyable as possible. You become a consultant."

They might want to speed up that learning curve: results of a new consumer survey from the online shopping and research site suggest that Millennials -- about a quarter of the U.S. population -- are going mobile to research, narrow the field, and choose autos.

The eBay Motors online survey -- a poll of 1,028 adults between 18 and 60 years old who intend to buy a vehicle within the next five years -- shows that one-third of Millennials use a mobile device to research information while shopping for a vehicle, vs. 19% non-Millennials. One in five Millennials said they would consider purchasing a vehicle using a mobile device. And over half of older shoppers say technology is changing the way they shop for vehicles too. 

When it comes to narrowing choices, 44% of eBay Motors respondents said that even at dealerships they would whip out mobile devices to compare prices or research. Only 27% of the non-Millennials surveyed said they would do that.

And because consumers-- especially younger ones -- are eschewing laptops for mobile devices, it's critical that automakers and retail offer ways to expedite financing on the 3.5-inch screen. "You don't want someone shopping on mobile and discovering that you don't have a credit app, meaning [he or she] has to go to a desktop," says Stanfield.

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