3 Summer Trends That Will Help You Capture the Attention of Shoppers
Summer is a traditionally strong time of year for vehicle sales. Incentives attract shoppers to the current year’s models to prepare for the influx of next year’s vehicles. However, the summer of 2021 looks a bit different from previous years due to the continuing shortage of new inventory.
What are the latest trends revealed by Sincro data? How do they stack up to our May analysis, which found a drop in shopper activity, a rise in used inventory, and demand for new vehicles outpacing used?
Here are three trends distilled from Sincro’s exploration of its early-summer sales data from June 1 to July 10, along with insights to help you make the most of these tendencies and attract attention from engaged shoppers.
Trend: Consumers Want to Buy Despite a Lack of Vehicles
A year ago, dealerships were emerging from lockdowns. Shoppers who hadn’t been able to visit showrooms flocked to websites instead, sparking increases in traffic. Interestingly this year, traffic has actually risen from 2020, even without that pent-up demand and given the lack of inventory:
- Site visits per dealer (1.2%) and hours & directions visits per dealer (12.8%) both outpaced the same time frame in 2020.
- Top site KPIs for this year were higher than the same time frame in 2019, except for a minor decline in inventory searches per dealer (2.6%). The slight downturn could stem from less need to search limited inventory choices. 2019 serves as a comparative benchmark as it was the most recent year not impacted by the pandemic and related production issues.
- While VDP views per dealer dropped by 4.6% compared to last year at this time, they were up significantly by 20.5% compared to the more typical baseline of 2019. Two years ago, inventory was at normal levels, and there were no restrictions on in-person interactions.
- Inventory searches per dealer (8.6%) and email leads per dealer (18.4%) were both down from the 2020 rebound, which could be due to two reasons:
- This year’s inventory lulls mean fewer vehicles of interest to search and less filtering and adjustment for specific features since shoppers know they are unlikely to find matches.
- A return to more normal levels after the buying surge of last year at this time, when people wanted their own vehicles rather than taking public transit during the pandemic.
Advice: Shoppers are motivated to buy and are coming to your website to see what’s available. Showcase the inventory you do have with high-quality images and detailed descriptions. Look at creative ways to promote the new and used vehicles on your lot, including social media and video. For more ideas, click here to discover five strategies to sell more cars despite low inventory.
Trend: New Inventory Is Rising Slowly
The biggest question facing the auto industry now is “When will the inventory shortage ease?” Sincro’s latest numbers show some optimism on that front. Inventory has actually increased, even among new vehicles in high demand. VIN exits as a percentage of inventory have grown year over year for new vehicles, demonstrating that sales have remained strong even in the face of fluctuating inventory. VIN exits have fallen slightly for used vehicles from last year at this time, as there was a surge of pre-owned vehicle purchases following the pandemic shutdowns in spring 2020. While results vary by individual dealer, the Sincro network overall has observed positive trends with rising inventory over the past six weeks:
Vehicle inventory increased 38.7% compared to 2020 and 11% above 2019 levels. VIN exits as a share of total inventory grew 5.8% from last year at the same time and 42% from 2019 figures.
New inventory during this period has grown by 15.4% compared to 2020 as OEMs come up with creative ways to continue delivering inventory while preparing to ship more vehicles when computer chips become available. New inventory is 21.3% below the same timeframe in 2019.
- New truck inventory is up 7.6% over last year, although last year’s figure represented a large drop (54%) from 2019.
- New SUV inventory is down just 0.8% compared to 2020 but was down 30.3% last year from 2019.
- New car inventory, which hasn’t been as in-demand as trucks and SUVs, is up 46.7% compared to 2020. Last year it was down 32.5% from 2019 levels.
Used inventory has grown at a faster pace than new. It’s up 64% over 2020 as dealers have turned to pre-owned vehicles to compensate for new inventory shortages.
- Used car inventory is up by 61.6%, used truck inventory is up 100%, and used SUV inventory is up 52.8% compared to last year, as dealers have done everything in their power to stock the highest-demand vehicles.
Advice: While a steady stream of new inventory may be unpredictable for several more months, maximize your supply of used vehicles through trade-ins and lease returns. To attract both, ensure shoppers can easily find your sell/trade and lease return landing pages. On these, highlight the ease of your process and the benefits to the consumer. Then share your message with targeted shoppers through a multi-channel advertising approach. For more on trade-in strategies, click here. To find out more about lease return strategies, click here.
Trend: Shoppers Are Heading for Dealerships Without a Specific Car in Mind
Despite positive signs on the inventory front, the supply of new vehicles is still at low levels. Yet shoppers want to buy. However, given the inventory crunch, they understand that their chances of finding the exact make and model they want at a price they can afford are slimmer than usual.
- Studies show an increase in cross-shopping behaviors. Sincro research found 60% of shoppers cross-shop between brands while researching a vehicle purchase.
- As site visits per dealer and hours & directions visits per dealer are up from last year, that could indicate shoppers are more open-minded about the vehicle they want to purchase.
Based on these, shoppers appear more willing to visit dealerships without a specific VIN in mind. Low inventory levels have inspired them to be more flexible, so they are focusing on what they need rather than a specific make and model.
Advice: Search volumes are high now because consumers can’t find the make and model of the vehicle they want. Since they’re willing to be adaptable, you want to capture shoppers, as you may have something similar on the lot. The way to do that is by investing in your website, SEO, Google My Business, social marketing, and content marketing. Make online shopping easy with improved website speeds and responsive design, so your site performs well on a mobile device. For more advice on accelerating sales, click here.
In these unprecedented times, the experts at Sincro can provide strategic insights, solutions powered by intelligent technology, and outstanding service to help you take the lead over your competitors. To find out how we can help you, click here, and to download the infograph featured in this blog, click here.
Paul Samione – Manager BI Analytics and Insights
Insights team, delivering actionable analysis, data visualizations, and strategic recommendations to our customers. Prior to that, he spent five years providing web strategy and analytics consulting for a variety of customers ranging from ecommerce companies to nonprofit organizations.