There is perhaps no component of today’s digital world that has gone through as much change in such a relatively short lifespan than the website.

The evolution can hardly be marked by design or function milestones as the history of the website flows more like a river than climbs like a set of stairs. Just as benchmarks are accepted, the next iteration is here to shake up the look, feel and function of your digital presence.

One constant for dealers though has been the goal of the dealership website, which has always been to convert low funnel sales leads, facilitate service and parts interaction and provide current vehicle information.

But with new techniques and software continuing to enhance the way we reach customers, the next 10 years will bring an abundance of opportunity via technology and consumer data.

The Future of Dealership Websites

With time becoming the world’s most coveted resource, websites of the future will exalt consumer’s time above all else.In the next five to 10 years, the online marketing landscape will evolve significantly – as it has in the previous decade.

The introduction of virtual/augmented reality is already sweeping across manufacturer websites. Real-time tracking and customer profiling is becoming the standard in turnkey web solutions.

Some OEMs are looking to service as the next technology frontier with in-app video between consumer and service technician.

And while new technology is exciting and creates a sense of opportunity, it’s important to remember the QR Code: The solution without a problem. There is technology in dealerships from coast to coast that require monetary and time investment to reach a desired outcome. But does the desired outcome solve a problem in the first place? Are we investing capital in QR codes? Ask these questions in your next technology decision.

Integrated Processes

Internet Departments will become extinct in the near future as the demands to integrate all departments from a consumer experience perspective continue to evolve.

Online sales and marketing teams have grown considerably over the past decade. From the singular IT manager handling everything from network security to a $40,000 monthly TRADER budget, to BDC and Internet departments that include web designers, content writers and appointment coordinators. However, the days of a segregated online sales process and department are numbered.

A fully integrated sales process will have the greatest impact on dealership success. Often we categorize customers based upon the point of initial contact (online, walk-in or phone). The process can become disjointed when the online customer walks in to the store.

An integrated sales process with a single individual identifying and addressing customer needs will be pivotal. As simple as this process sounds, we often put our employees in a box of how they can or can’t engage. This approach limits the ability to offer customers an efficient buying experience. Lead dealers in the future will focus heavily on talent acquisition, training and integrated consumer experience.

While human resources has the greatest impact on consumers’ time, tools and technology will continue to improve the way we acquire and engage customers.

Unfortunately, the volume of product available makes it difficult to determine where to invest time resources. The ability to track, target and engage is evolving, so too will the demand on dealers’ time.

Critical decisions made in both resources and capital will determine success in the marketing mix.

Before investing in new technology or services, you must ask yourself two questions:

What is the specific desired outcome of this decision?

What impact will this decision have on my resources (budget and time)?

Simple enough, but how many tools (CRM, heat mapping, etc.) are running in dealerships across North America today that require human capital to reach a desired result?

While most vendors shift focus to what can be accomplished with a product or tool, successful dealers will shift focus back to what will be accomplished.

When evaluating any technology solution it is important to find a solution that exhibits proven results based upon three or more active success stories. While there are benefits in early adoption, being first to the party should be the exception, not the rule. Time investment and opportunity cost is critical to any level of technology adoption.

Kyle Orlando is the Director of Product Development & Marketing at e-Dealer. He has 7 years experience creating effective online solutions for car dealers. For more information, he can be reached at 647.638.1452 /

From August 2016 Canadian Auto World publication