Mobile Commerce & the World of Car Dealers

Mobile commerce is seeping into all corners of shopping, no matter the product size or price.

After I addressed a group of car dealers who wanted to know how they might leverage mobile in their dealerships recently, some of the questions revolved around the use of QR codes and pricing.

Specifically, some dealers wanted to know if they should include car pricing on their mobile listings and whether they should bother to include QR codes on the vehicles themselves.

The pricing issue answer was obvious, since mobile consumers with a tap or two could find out through apps like Kelly Blue Book the appropriate price of any particular car.

But the issue of QR codes was a bit more interesting.

If the QR code would simply route a scanning mobile shopper to a website, then it could be considered a waste of time. However, since dealers typically place physical price stickers on each car anyway, adding a relevant QR code would be only little added effort.



This begs the question of what the QR code should or could lead to.

An obvious one would be linkage to a fact sheet on the car. Maybe a link to a video with either the previous owner talking about how he or she cared for the car or a quick video of an expert highlighting certain aspects of the vehicle.

No matter the creative content, I suggested to the dealers that the higher value would be in the data they obtained from the scans.

Using scanning code platform such as ScanBuy or Spyderlynk would show dealers which cars are being scanned most often, when they are scanned, the locations of those vehicles on the lot and even some of the demographics of those doing the scanning.

Dealers could identify the high-interest vehicles and aggregate those cars to the front of the lot. They could analyze which types of vehicles are most frequently scanned, the best location for QR codes to be scanned based on number of scans and whether relocating the cars was effective, based on sales.

This is only one aspect of location a car dealer can leverage, there are many others.

Would you (or did you) use mobile to help shop for a new car?


OMMA mCommerce, July 15, New York. MasterCard, Joule, ScanBuy, Huge, Spyderlynk, Rue La La, BYNDL, Catalina, Giant Eagle, Payvia, Ansible, Moxie Interactive coming. Here’s the AGENDA.

8 comments about "Mobile Commerce & the World of Car Dealers".
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  1. Dan Bergeron from Napkin Labs, June 12, 2013 at 7:04 p.m.

    It's interesting to me that so many marketers regardless of what industry still are relatively in the dark about QR codes and have this notion that they are a trendy techy way to get to consumers. How many consumers actually use QR codes? Were they every actually popular and convenient? Most smartphones do not even come with a built in easy QR code reader app, consumers must download a third party app. If consumers want more information about a product, they will seek it out, just stick with a domain, mobile site, FB or twitter handle.

    Dan Bergeron
    Strategy Director, Napkin Labs

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 12, 2013 at 9:27 p.m.

    You are so correct about marketer's early love affair with QR. In answer to your question about how many scan: one piece or recent research shows 8%. Some brands now include barcode readers within their app, so there is that.

  3. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, June 13, 2013 at 5:30 a.m.

    Re: "Dealers could identify the high-interest vehicles and aggregate those cars to the front of the lot". I think you mean *high profit* vehicles. The high interest vehicles are what bring customers to the lot, but you want to upsell them onto something more profitable.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 13, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.

    Good point Pete, though in this case we were addressing used cars, the idea being that a dealer could tell which vehicles are of interest based on number of scans, etc. Your idea of the new car positioning might be even better.

  5. mike boland from BIA/Kelsey, June 13, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.

    Auto has always been a top vertical for mobile ad spending so the move down funnel to better consideration and conversion tools makes sense. But devil's advocate question: Though this would be good for the consumer, don't dealers usually stray from information and transparency in order to maximize the direct sales interaction with on-site customers? The more time they can spend with sales reps the better (and the less they know the better...).

  6. Ayo Omojola from Hipmob, June 13, 2013 at 12:36 p.m.

    The challenge with QR codes is still the dependence on an app to leverage it (At least with iOS). A really simple way these dealerships could go geofenced advertising - I don't yet know how much search volume/research for cars is going mobile, but I've watched with interest that more and more folks are substituting their laptops for tablets - which means that for now, given the LTV of customers for a car dealership, mobile/tablet ads are a relatively cheap lead gen tool (wont always be the case).

  7. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 13, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.

    You may be right on that point, Mike, though the mobile-armed consumer today has so much information available to them on site that the traditional direct-interaction model may be challenged.

  8. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 13, 2013 at 12:53 p.m.

    You raise an interesting point, Ayo, in that QR code readers aren't necessarily intuitive and in many cases SMS/MMS can be more effective with broader reach. We also know form various studies that mobile consumers are, inf act, spending a lot more time researching their purchase at home on tablets before heading out, so your point is well taken.

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