Earlier, the main focus area of brands used to be its physical infrastructure like the total number of dealerships, number of outlets, and how many cities they have covered. Hence, during the first wave of COVID-19, a traditionally offline industry such as the automotive sector took the worst hit.
According to research, 95% of car buyers start the process by using online mediums as a source of information. Consumers Today, everything is becoming digital. Consumers are relying more on the information the brand is putting on the internet before visiting the store, even to book a test drive. The majority of the transactions happen within the vicinity of 5-10kms from the consumer’s location. Four out of every five people living in India who are considering buying a car said they would use an online purchase option if it were available. Moreover, nearly a third of all potential buyers would buy a car sooner if they had an online option and could avoid visiting a dealership. The procedure for buying a car has changed significantly over time. An experience that was formerly solely in person is now frequently started online and finished in person. By the time customers walk into the store with a clear mindset, what they’d like to buy, what is in stock, and the best deal around it.
The change in consumer behaviour where the consumer searches for a particular store before visiting the physical location is increasing rapidly. Consumers are relying more on the information provided by the brands online than ever. Simple information like store timings, NAP consistency, or whether the store staff is fully vaccinated has been the basis of what the consumers are searching for.
This showed us a trend where the consumer is becoming more aware of the change. They are becoming more conscious about what they are buying, from where they are buying it. Which contributed to all the brick-and-mortar and especially automotive dealers focusing on their hyper-localized location-focused strategy to identify their in-market customers for a long-term success strategy. Customer insights play an important role when it’s to having the right set of strategies to draft an action plan. Without in-depth knowledge about your customers, finding and working towards the right trends can be a hardship.
This brings us to the list of recent trends that can be used to reach out to your customers effectively.
Let’s look at a simple example. Imagine there’s an automobile brand having dealerships across India. During a festival like Pongal, local dealers in the southern part of the country can customize offers according to the needs of the local consumers there. Parallelly, for a festival like Lohri which is celebrated around the same time in the northern part of the country, local dealers can customize offers according to the requirements or purchase behaviour of the consumers there. With effective hyperlocal strategies and store-level eCommerce capabilities, every franchise can become a treasure trove for brands. And the more every location can strengthen its presence in local markets through reviews and improve its digital identity, the better its relationship with consumers, and the greater its growth prospects.
Having a hybrid model increases brand awareness amongst the consumer. According to BCG research, 48% of people prefer hybrid shopping which makes it important for brands to not only focus on their physical stores but also have a digital presence to focus on untapped opportunities. Another sector where there is enormous change is traditional physical shopping at brick and mortar stores. From BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In-Store) service to provide a path route, and available items in-store, there is a drive to work with omnichannel frictionless retailing encounters. A Frictionless Retail set-up too involves that clients ought to have the option to view their items effectively with the assistance of in-store advanced mobile apps. Furthermore, stores are noticing a huge dip in footfalls in physical stores. This information can be used to distinguish opportunities to convert the physical outlets into hybrid setups where the customer can look for the product online over the brand website or location-based microsite before actually visiting the store, which will result in an increase in the brand’s discoverability.
Having NAP consistency, consistent, accurate information like name address and phone number, store timings, and the service they provide can increase the trust of Google which helps in raising the rank of the brand on SERPs.75% of users don’t go beyond 1st page of SERP which makes imperative for brands to make their listings and websites discoverable. Brands that have consistent, accurate, and up-to-date information across all search engines like Google, DuckDuckGo, and Bing get prioritized.
We have seen a trend across industries, where when the reviews on any listing are more than a hundred, the requests for calls, directions, and discovery searches tend to go up. Which ultimately impacts the click-through rate. This implies that brands should focus on their review management to get higher conversion rates.
According to research, 76% of people who are searching on their smartphone for something nearby will visit the business in a day and 28% of those searches for something nearby result in a purchase. Hence it becomes important for the brands with multi-location business models to have an optimised digital presence across the ecosystem. Over the last 2 years, we have witnessed a 30% increase in the discoverability of auto dealerships. While the user was not able to visit the dealership, with the help of location-based microsites with accurate information regarding the store and the cars available. The change in consumer behaviour post-pandemic suggests that brands that are following the path of digitising the car-buying experience are at a surge for success. People’s expectations are shifting, as they want to engage with brands and make purchases from the comfort of their homes more than ever before.