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Jul. 12, 2010 – Rebuilding the consumer mind

July 12, 2010
Filed under Features

Due to increasing competition and consumers’ natural online searching habits, an Illinois dealership found itself losing key parts and accessory business, even from customers who recently purchased new units there.

Mike Jackson, manager of World of Powersports, the Decatur, Ill., dealership, said the store constantly found its customers opting to buy from online discounters who were selling parts at cost plus-20 percent and even lower.

“The owner asked why customers were buying parts from other dealers online when we obviously had an excellent Web site and great mail order shipping department,” said Jackson.

Seeking answers, the staff called customers they knew had purchased from online retailers and asked that very question.

The answer, it turns out, was simple.

Jackson said consumers bought elsewhere because they did what they knew — they searched Google, the part number and found the best price.

To get those customers back, World of Powersports created a Web site orientation program. During a customer’s visit, either while waiting to complete a vehicle purchase in the business office or during their introduction to the parts department, the consumer sits down with a Web specialist who goes over features and benefits of the dealership’s Web site.

The dealership created an employee document that laid out the Web orientation tutorial to be sure everything was included. The one-on-one with the consumer takes about 10 minutes. During that time, customers get the opportunity to control the mouse and navigate the site themselves as well as ask questions.

For the dealership’s customers who aren’t buying a vehicle, the dealership entices them to do a Web site orientation by offering an incentive, which might be 10 percent off an online purchase.

If the customer says he or she doesn’t have time, the dealership asks to set up an appointment for a future date or do it over the phone.

“We’ve seen huge results with this program,” said Jackson. “One statistic we measure is the percent of unit buyers who order online from our Web site within 90 days. We’ve measured this for about eight years, and we’ve seen that percentage go from as low as 5 percent when we started measuring to around 60 percent in recent months.”

The increase in customer usage has led to a 50 percent increase in online parts sales to major unit customers within 30 days of unit purchase and better online customer retention.

World of Powersports implemented this idea in early fall as well as added a 90-day follow-up call to customers who have not purchased on the dealers’ Web site to see if they’re buying from someone else and why.

“In most cases they haven’t bought from anyone during that period,” noted Jackson. “The results are phenomenal.” psb

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