rapidly changing customer expectations, if your team isn’t testing and
learning daily to improve the customer experience, then you’re likely
already behind. Change is no longer happening over months or even
years—it’s happening now. Customers expect to be “wowed” from the
moment they start shopping on their mobile device to when they step
foot in your stores.
The auto industry, like most other verticals, has seen a drastic change
in shopper behavior. Ten years ago, the average used-car buyer visited
five to seven dealerships before selecting a car. Now, with online
research, the average buyer doesn’t even make it to two. While nine out
of 10 CarMax customers start their experience online, almost all of
them finish in store.
As an omni channel retailer, we are focused on interacting with
customers whenever and however they want to shop.
Held to new standards
People don't evaluate their experiences by vertical anymore. It
be, "I'll compare CarMax against all other used car dealers,” or “I'll
compare Nordstrom against all other clothing retailers." Now customers
are taking the best experiences from one industry and demanding a
similar or better experience in others.
At CarMax, this means we’re not competing against the best experience
consumers have ever had buying a car, we’re competing against the best
experience they’ve ever had—period. A customer can order a very
personalized cup of coffee every morning. Why can't she have an
experience that's customized for her when she buys a car?
That means everything must be personalized, from the mobile marketing
messages to the in-store experience. For us, that requires anticipating
customer needs. Is her priority researching the best car for her needs?
Is it speed or convenience? Is financing the first step in her car
Use search to identify
Search and user data are great identifiers to discover unique
needs. Based on their behavior on CarMax.com, we can use anonymized
visitor-level data to determine whether a customer will be more suited
for standard messaging related to CarMax’s customer offers, or
messaging related to financing. Then we can personalize accordingly.
Connect the online and in-store
Customers expect a seamless shopping experience, and we see the
device as the bridge between the digital and physical. Synchronized
browsing will be an important part of the CarMax shopping experience of
Let's say a customer is coming into the store to check out a Toyota
Camry, but we also know that she did a lot of searching for other
Japanese sedans. With that in mind, the Toyota Camry would be ready at
her appointment, but the Nissan Altima and a Honda Accord would also be
available and ready for test drives. By knowing more about the customer
and her pre-purchase research, we believe it’s possible to develop a
better informed and seamless car buying experience.
Another way synchronized browsing could come to life is through pairing
mobile devices with iBeacon solutions on our lots. If a customer has
her mobile device in hand as she’s walking and browsing, it can become
her guide to inventory as mobile alerts pop up with guidance.
Test for better results
Providing stellar experiences requires testing and constant
We conduct experiments incessantly, with discovery and delivery going
on concurrently. Having a constant cadence of little discoveries is not
only a faster way to deliver new experiences to the consumer, but it's
actually a much lower-risk way to deliver innovation to market.
A few years ago, we realized that we weren’t meeting rising customer
expectations for car photos. Google Analytics data showed that fewer
than half of the photos for individual cars were being viewed. Our
employees often took many photographs of the vehicle, but not
necessarily the photographs customers cared most about. To solve this
issue, we surveyed customers and began tagging photo types to learn
more, then tested and refined a new photo-capture process to improve
the images for a consistent experience.
Analytics also help us see which photos customers clicked, in what
order, and for how long of a duration. This allows us to tell which
pictures are most engaging for the consumer. For example, when people
are buying an SUV, they want to look at a photo of the trunk of the
vehicle so they can see how much storage space there is. Now we can
make sure that SUV listings have clear photos of the storage areas.
As a result of our improvements to our photo capture and display
process, 20% more customers now look at a dozen or more photos in a
series, making them better informed and more likely to purchase.
Empower your teams
Whatever vertical you’re in, the more you can anticipate
needs every step of the way, the happier they’ll be. To achieve this,
it’s critical to empower your teams to analyze and learn as well as
test and fail.
At the core of each of our product teams is a product manager, a lead
UX designer, a business analyst/data scientist, and a lead developer.
We never tell these teams how to solve a particular problem—just what
to solve, providing them KPIs to work toward and empowering them to
solve for customer needs. The teams develop a hypothesis, run an
experiment, analyze the results, and identify if their solution will
improve the customer experience while delivering business results. They
are constantly iterating as they work toward their goal.
We're willing to try almost anything. If it improves the experience,
we'll implement it, and if it doesn't improve it, then we move on to
the next experiment.
Who cares if you tried and failed? As long as you've learned something,
then you’re always getting smarter about your customers and how to meet
Car Dealer Solutions
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