How Do Consumers Shop Across Sites Within a Dealer Group?

Sep 14, 2017 | | 31 |

How Do Consumers Shop Across Sites Within a Dealer Group?

By Christina Rockey

It’s no secret that customers are starting their shopping journey online. In fact, 75 percent of the car shopping journey is now done online with the average shopper visiting 18.2 websites during their path to purchase. But there is little data on how consumers interact with websites within a dealer group – so CDK Global set out to see how consumers navigate between dealer websites, dealer group portals, OEM sites, and third-party sites throughout their journey.

We specifically looked at how consumers first entered a Dealer Group’s ecosystem (dealer group portal and the individual dealership websites made up the “Dealer Group’s ecosystem”) and the interactions that followed.

The first question was where they went after their first stop in the ecosystem: 26 percent kept shopping the dealer group. But a large percentage of consumers also navigated away from the dealer group’s websites to one or more locations to find other information:

  • 12 percent went to an OEM site
  • 13 percent visited a major auto research portal
  • 24 percent shopped a competitor’s website
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As you can tell, there were multiple points where the consumer stopped shopping the dealer group. Which means there were multiple points where the dealer group may have lost a potential customer. We also found that, of the shoppers that went to a competitor’s website, 68 percent of them went to a competitor’s site for a brand the original dealer group carries.

We also found that consumers took different paths depending on whether they first entered the ecosystem through an individual dealership website or the Dealer Group portal. When a potential customer first interacted with the Dealer Group portal instead of an individual website, they were 8 percent less likely to then go to a competitor’s site.

Given what the findings in this study indicate, it’s important to ask yourself some tough questions about your strategy for keeping consumers shopping in your dealer group. Here are a few to get you started:

1. How is your advertising strategy addressing the potential consumer defection points?

While you can hope that a potential customer won’t leave your website, you should be prepared if they do. Create retargeting ads to encourage them to visit other store sites within your dealer group if they leave yours.

2. What’s your strategy to cross-promote your Dealer Group?

Knowing that a large percentage of consumers will continue to a competitor’s site instead of another site in your Dealer Group, consider how you are cross-merchandising your brand and your family of dealerships on your different sites. For example, you can post your dealer group’s aggregate inventory on the portal site and shared used inventory on each child site. You might also share promotions and incentives across your dealer group sites so customers know what deals they can find at different dealerships within your group. Finally, make sure that you have set up your site to allow the customer to easily and quickly navigate between sites with just a few clicks.

3. How do you engage customers in their research phase?

Considering 22 percent of consumers continue their research after leaving the dealer website, it’s safe to say that many of your website visitors are still in the process of deciding which vehicle and which dealership best meets their needs. Adjust your website and advertising strategy to accommodate those who need more information before they buy. Provide helpful information and other research tools on your portal to deliver more information to those still looking.

For more information or to get a full readout on the Dealer Group Ecosystem research, contact

Director, Advertising
Christina Rockey has worked in digital advertising for over 15 years and thrives on the convergence of media, ad tech and advanced automotive analytics. In her role as Director, Advertising Strategy at CDK Global she consults with teams across the organization on how to deliver the optimum online shopping experience for leading automotive clients.