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The Future of Car Dealership Websites: Trends and Predictions

December 2022
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The role websites play

Car dealership websites play a crucial role in attracting and retaining customers, as well as streamlining dealership operations. In today's digital age, it's more important than ever for dealerships to have a strong online presence, and to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies. In this article, we'll explore some of the key trends and predictions for the future of car dealership websites, and how dealerships can stay ahead of the curve.

Trend #1: Increased focus on customer experience

One key trend we're seeing in the future of car dealership websites is an increased focus on customer experience. Gone are the days of static, information-only websites. Today's customers expect a personalized, seamless experience on dealership websites, and dealerships are rising to the challenge by creating more user-friendly, interactive websites.

There are a number of ways that dealerships can improve the customer experience on their websites. One approach is to use Single Page Applications (SPAs) which allow for a faster, more responsive user experience by eliminating the need for full page reloads. This can help customers quickly find the information they need, whether it's browsing inventory, scheduling a test drive, or filling out a financing application.

In addition to using SPAs, dealerships can also enhance the customer experience by eliminating third party javascript, iframes, and plugins. These can slow down the website and create a frustrating experience for users. Instead, dealerships can focus on using native, lightweight technologies that provide a faster, more seamless experience for customers.

Another way to enhance the customer experience is to provide engaging content and resources. This can include videos, virtual tours, and other interactive elements that help customers learn more about the dealership and the vehicles they are interested in. Dealerships can also use customer reviews and ratings to build trust and credibility with website visitors.

Overall, the goal is to create a website that is not only functional, but also enjoyable and valuable for customers. By putting the customer at the center of their online presence, and using technologies that enhance the user experience, dealerships can differentiate themselves from the competition and drive more sales.

Trend #2: More personalized and targeted marketing

Another trend we're seeing in the future of car dealership websites is the use of data and analytics to create personalized, targeted marketing campaigns. With the help of AI and machine learning, dealerships can now deliver highly relevant content and offers to website visitors, based on their interests and behavior.

One tool that can help with this is Google Analytics (GA). GA is a free web analytics service offered by Google that helps dealerships track and report website traffic. In 2021, Google introduced GA4, the latest version of the platform. GA4 introduces new features such as enhanced tracking of user behavior and events, and improved integration with other Google marketing tools. With GA4, dealerships can gain a better understanding of how users are interacting with their website, and use that data to create more targeted marketing campaigns.

It's worth noting that Google is also sunsetting its Universal Analytics (UA) platform, which means that all users will eventually need to migrate to GA4. While UA will continue to function for the time being, it's important for dealerships to start planning their migration to GA4 to ensure a smooth transition and continue taking advantage of the latest features and capabilities.

Overall, the use of data and analytics is key to creating personalized, targeted marketing campaigns that drive results for car dealerships. By leveraging the power of AI and machine learning, dealerships can deliver a more personalized experience for website visitors and drive more sales.

Trend #3: Greater integration with dealership operations

Another trend we're seeing in the future of car dealership websites is the trend towards all-in-one solutions that integrate with dealership management systems. With so many different tools and systems in place at a dealership, it can be a challenge to keep everything organized and streamlined. By using a website platform that integrates with other dealership systems, such as DealerTrack, Reynolds and Reynolds, and VinSolutions, dealerships can improve efficiency and reduce the risk of errors.

In addition to the benefits for dealerships, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are also prioritizing the removal of extraneous third party tools and plugins from their franchise dealer sites. This helps to ensure a consistent, high-quality experience for customers across all dealership websites, and also helps to protect against security risks.

Trend #4: Continued importance of mobile optimization

One trend that shows no signs of slowing down is the increasing number of website visits from mobile devices. In fact, it's estimated that over half of all website traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. This highlights the continued importance of mobile optimization for car dealership websites.

To ensure a seamless mobile experience for customers, dealerships should focus on using responsive design techniques that ensure their website looks and functions well on any device. This includes optimizing images, buttons, and other elements for small screens, and using a mobile-friendly layout.

Another option for improving the mobile experience is to use Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). PWAs are web-based apps that offer a native app-like experience, but are delivered via the web. They can be installed on a device's home screen and offer offline functionality, among other benefits. By using a PWA, dealerships can provide a fast, reliable, and engaging experience for mobile users.

Trend #5: The rise of virtual and augmented reality

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are technologies that are quickly gaining traction in the car dealership industry. By using VR and AR, dealerships can offer a more immersive and engaging experience for customers, whether they are browsing inventory, taking a virtual test drive, or learning about different features and options.

One way that VR and AR are being used in the industry is through the creation of virtual showrooms. With a virtual showroom, customers can explore different vehicles in a realistic, interactive environment, without even leaving their home. This can be especially useful for customers who live far from the dealership, or who may have mobility issues.

Another trend to watch is the rise of the Metaverse, a virtual shared space that brings together people, content, and experiences in a single, immersive environment. The Metaverse is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way that dealerships interact with customers. By using the Metaverse, dealerships could offer virtual test drives, virtual sales consultations, and other immersive experiences that help customers make informed purchasing decisions.

Overall, the use of VR and AR is helping dealerships to elevate the customer experience and differentiate themselves from the competition. As these technologies continue to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative uses in the car dealership industry.

Trend #6: The continued evolution of AI and large language models

AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the ability of computers and machines to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and decision making. In the car dealership industry, AI can be used in a variety of ways to improve the customer experience and streamline operations.

One way that AI is being used in the industry is through the use of Language Learning Models (LLMs). LLMs are AI-powered systems that can understand and generate human-like language, and are being used to improve the customer experience on dealership websites. For example, a chatbot powered by an LLM could answer customer questions or provide personalized recommendations, helping to make the customer journey more seamless and efficient.

Another area where AI is being used in the car dealership industry is image categorization. By using machine learning algorithms to analyze and categorize images, dealerships can more easily organize and manage their inventory. This can help customers more easily find the vehicles they are interested in, and can also help dealerships better understand their inventory and make more informed decisions.

Overall, AI is playing an increasingly important role in the car dealership industry, helping to improve the customer experience and streamline operations. As AI technologies continue to advance, we can expect to see even more innovative uses in the future.

In conclusion, the future of car dealership websites is all about enhancing the customer experience and streamlining operations. By staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, dealerships can differentiate themselves from the competition and drive more sales. With the help of tools like AI and machine learning, as well as technologies like VR and AR, dealerships have the opportunity to create a truly personalized and seamless customer journey online.

A better dealership website