Connect with today’s mobile-first consumers through a dealership-branded mobile app
By Colleen Malloy
We’re living in a mobile-first world. Today’s shoppers are turning to their smartphones for help making purchasing decisions at higher rates than ever before. In fact, on an average day, nearly 40 percent of searchers use only smartphones.1
Embracing mobile as part of your digital marketing strategy can help you reach more shoppers and make a greater impact for those who prefer their smartphones to computers. One effective way to engage your mobile-savvy shoppers is through a dealership-branded mobile app. These apps help you share content with your customers in a way that’s optimized for mobile viewing, and they give you some high-tech ways to engage shoppers.
Let’s dig into what a dealership-branded mobile app is and how it can benefit your dealership.
What is a dealership-branded mobile app?
A dealership-branded mobile app can be a powerful tool for your dealership by putting the power of your store in an easy-to-use format on your shoppers’ smartphones or tablets. Using branding that matches your store and your website, your app can give shoppers a wealth of information about your products, services and dealership.
Besides being a cool place for you to display your product details, an app can help you create an interactive experience for your shoppers. With an app, you can push notifications directly to the mobile devices that have it installed. This means you can send shoppers who have your app special offers, service reminders and more to help keep your dealership top of mind.
What to look for in a dealership-branded mobile app?
As of April 2016, according to eMarketer, 37 percent of U.S. smartphone owners had six or more mobile retail apps on their smartphone, so it’s clear that shoppers are looking for ways to connect with their favorite stores and brands from their favorite device.2 There are a lot of ways that you can leverage a dealership-branded mobile app to boost engagement with your customers and drive sales using a few must-have features. Let’s take a look at five of them:
1) Detailed product information: I say it time and time again, but detailed information about the products that you sell at your dealership is key. Shoppers want to learn as much as they can about a product before they buy it, and having easy-to-browse product data in your dealership app is a convenient way to give them the information they need.
Although shoppers can get product information on your website, with a dealership-branded app, you can take things a step further by enabling shoppers to add items to a wish list they have easy access to any time they visit your store. If customers are shopping for a new snow blower, they can browse your app and add their favorite models to their wish list. Then, when they visit you in-store to see the snow blowers in person, they have a quick reference for the models of greatest interest to them.
2) Easy service requests: If I’m a loyal customer of your dealership and I hit a rock with my lawn mower, I’m not going to think twice before reaching out to make a service appointment with you. I’ll be even happier if I can book an appointment with just a few taps of my finger using your dealership app that I have on my smartphone!
The convenience of getting a service appointment scheduled quickly using your app is going to please me as a customer. You’ll get bonus points if your app can add the service appointment to my calendar and send me a notification to remind me a few hours before my appointment.
3) mCommerce: Major retailers like Amazon and Target are changing the way that customers shop by allowing shoppers to purchase items from directly within their retail mobile app. This is called mCommerce (short for “mobile commerce”), and you can take advantage of it for your dealership.
While some shoppers might not make a major purchase like a new riding lawn mower without seeing it in person, many will feel comfortable buying smaller items like parts from within your mobile app. Don’t miss out on these sales! Having an mCommerce-friendly app will ensure that your shoppers can easily and securely make these purchases without having to take extra steps, and you can cash in on the extra sales.
4) Push notifications: Sending notifications to your app users can boost your engagement by as much as 88 percent.3 Push notifications allow you to send messages to all of your app users, and they’re a great way to promote things like special offers or in-store events. Not only do these notifications engage your shoppers, but they also can provide an incentive for them to make a purchase with you.
If your app is mCommerce-enabled, you can also send notifications to remind shoppers when they’ve left items in their shopping cart without checking out. Following up can help you score sales that otherwise may have been missed!
5) Beacon technology: What if you could send a message directly to shoppers’ smartphones based on where they are in your store? It sounds like science fiction, but by integrating beacon technology with your dealership app, it can become a reality.
Beacons are small Bluetooth hubs that you can place within your store. They recognize smartphones that have your app installed, and they can send tailored messaging based on how far away a shopper who uses your app is away from the beacon device. So if shoppers are standing in front of your snow blowers for a few minutes, you could send them a notification prompting them to learn more about the snow blower models you carry within your app. You could also use this technology to send discounts — like 10 percent off a new snow blower — to help those shoppers make their way further down the path to purchase.
Apps have come a long way since smartphones first hit the scene, and it’s time for your dealership to take advantage of the technology, and you don’t have to be a tech wiz to create one! By doing some research, you can find easy-to-use platforms or companies that will create an app for you, and it’s well worth the investment. Jumping on the dealership-branded mobile app bandwagon can help you stay ahead of the competition and help shoppers see you as even more of an expert in the outdoor power equipment industry.
Colleen Malloy is the director of marketing at ARI Network Services. Prior to joining ARI in November 2013, Malloy served as the editor of Motorcycle and Powersports News. She is dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”