If you want to turn walk-in shoppers to customers at your dealership, make sure you are delivering a quality customer experience with your content.

As Cars.com CRO John Clavadetscher blogged recently, walk-in shoppers are the new normal. Cars.com research shows that 43 percent of car shoppers don’t contact a dealership before walking onto the lot via traditional “lead” methods.¹ And two-thirds of these walk-in shoppers make a purchase within 72 hours of their on-the-lot visit.¹ We also know how walk-in shoppers are using sources like Cars.com to research multiple dealers, down to the level of vehicle features. To win with walk-in shoppers, dealers need to treat their online content as a competitive asset by creating quality content and keeping it up to date.

About On-the-Lot Shoppers

Recently, Cars.com studied  200,000 walk-in shoppers who used the Cars.com app or mobile site while at a dealership.² Here’s what we found:

  • Shoppers view an average of 4.7 dealer profile pages on Cars.com before they visit a dealership lot.²
  • On average, Cars.com shoppers visit an average of 1.4 dealerships.²
  • One out of four shoppers on a dealership lot will go on to visit other dealerships. The majority of shoppers will visit another dealer within a week of their first dealer visit.²

In other words, walk-in shoppers are doing a lot of research on Cars.com before they visit dealers — and then they’re comparison-shopping across dealers while they’re on your lot and your competitors’ lots.

Top Lot Visits By Make

We recently analyzed our Lot Insights data, which is also featured in our new Dealer Dashboard, to identify the Makes receiving the most on-the-lot visitors.  We found that in April of this year, the Top 5 Makes categorized by non-luxury are all close to each other, vying for the most visited make nationwide (Figure 1).³

Figure 1.  On-the-Lot Trend Report.  Cars.com, May 2017.

So, how can you convince shoppers to stop by your dealership either while they are online or at dealer lots to break away from the pack?

What Dealers Should Do

The answer is to focus on quality — make sure your content is up to date and visually compelling. Why? Because our research shows that on-the-lot shoppers are typically performing the following actions (in order of popularity) on Cars.com during their research:²

  • Save photo
  • Save dealer
  • Features (VDP)
  • Share via email
  • Check availability
  • Video (VPD)

The pattern here is obvious: walk-in shoppers are actively interacting with your content (and your competitors’ content) as they comparison-shop, as evidenced by the features they use on Cars.com. So, we suggest that you:

  • Make sure your listed photos, features and videos are absolutely top-notch — not just present, but visually compelling, descriptive, and optimized to be found through search
  • Make sure your dealer profile page is up to date

Bottom line: walk-in shoppers are doing heavy research before and during their on-the-lot visit, and they’re relying on resources such as Cars.com to do so. It’s time to do a check-up with your content. Assess how complete, up-to-date, and impactful it is — not just once but often. When it comes to walk-in shoppers, their on-the-lot experience – and your ability to influence them — begins with quality content.

DOWNLOAD the full Infographic of the On-the-Lot Trend Report for April now!

For more insights to fuel your growth, including Lot Insights for your dealership, log into MyDealerCenter or contact your Cars.com representative.

[1] Walk-In Shopper Survey.  Cars.com, February 2017. (Toluna and Vision Critical Captures).
[2] Behavioral Analytics on Mobile.  Cars.com Data, June 2016.
[3] National Lot Insights Reporting.  Cars.com Tableau Data, May 2017