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Is Your Dealership Ready for the Real-Time Shopper? (Courtesy of Ed Parkinson & Dealer Marketing Magazine)

It’s not 2008 anymore. Consumer expectations, communication preferences, and shopping behaviors have all changed due to mass public adoption of smartphones and tablets. Consider the following statistics:


According to a report by online monitor, Pingdom, mobile browsing has increased 69 percent since 2010. In fact, mobile internet use is set to surpass desktop internet use by 2015 (Morgan Stanley Research, The Mobile Internet Report, 2009). The Nielsen Company first declared in September, 2008 that text messaging surpassed phone calling as the primary means of communication. Cell phone users send 41.5 text messages per day as opposed to 12.3 voice calls (Pew Research Center, 2011). Forty-nine percent of mobile consumers say they frequently use their smartphones while shopping (The Nielsen Company, The Mobile Media Report: State of the Media, 2011).


Take a look around. Everywhere you turn, whether at a coffee shop, a restaurant, or in a hotel lobby, people are moving about with their heads down, looking at their electronic devices. Consumers today use technology to “like,” Tweet, shop, ask questions, browse reviews, find coupons, and get directions instantly.


A 2012 Ruder Finn Mobile Intent Index Study said that, "91 percent of mobile users go online to socialize, compared to only 79 percent of traditional users. They are using their mobile phones 'at the moment' to connect with others."


For decades, placing a phone call was the quickest way to obtain certain information. In most cases, that's just not the reality anymore. Search engines like Google and Bing, with the help of legions of online databases and forums, have majored in the art of answering every question imaginable. Questions not readily answered by search engines, can be addressed by reaching out to networks on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, or Google+, for example. For any questions that may remain, live chat now provides instant access into dealerships without the runaround and probing typically associated with a phone call.


Today's consumers are empowered like never before with real-time communication tools and information. Using the internet, shoppers can maintain their anonymity and remain in control of the buying process longer.


In 2011, Google published The Auto Shopper Behavior Study, which asserted that today's vehicle shoppers (1) research and decide faster, (2) search to navigate and compare, and (3) rely on their mobile devices to research on the go.


If you're interested in learning practical ways to help you dealership prepare for and engage today's real-time shopper, I'd like to personally invite you to attend my breakout session at the upcoming AutoCon Conference and Expo, September 5-8. For information and to register, visit


Ed Parkinson has been working with automotive dealers for 27 years and has championed many new services that "move the needle" for his customers. Ed helped pioneer the use of call tracking and measurement to increase sales and quantify the return-on-marketing during his seven years at Who's Calling Inc. Ed began selling and coaching auto dealers on Contact At Once! services in 2006 and joined the company as vice president of sales in April, 2007. He holds a B.B.A in Marketing and Management from Temple University.

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Tags: ads, auto, chat, google, in, mobile, shopper


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