Does your car dealership need a mobile app?

Image by Mercedes-Benz of Natick

A dealer-branded mobile app is a great retention tool and has been adopted by many stores large and small. Although it creates value for customers, it is only beneficial if people download and use its features. And nearly half the time, users aren’t satisfied with their experience in a mobile app.

an initial JD Power OEM EV Application Comparison Study looked at a small segment of tech-savvy consumers who own electric vehicles and asked about their experience with the OEM application. Almost one in three people don’t use the mobile app because they don’t know how it works. Of the 20 most common features found in the app, more than two-thirds would like 15 options, but the survey found that “only eight features are widely available”.

Although this only covers a small segment of car owners, the relevant demographic should be quite capable of navigating a mobile app effectively. Non-EV applications likely get less traction from car owners. And when a mobile application is not appreciated or easily integrated into daily life, it remains unused and archived or even deleted.

How is this relevant to dealership applications

Like an OEM application, there are many reasons to develop and distribute a standalone dealership application. Notifications can retain service customers and provide service reminders, and it’s a simple platform for owners to schedule vehicle maintenance. New model descriptions and features may be released, and financing and leasing promotions may be announced to a targeted audience.

But is your dealership’s mobile app working well? Roughly a quarter of all apps are only used once. Usually, the user experience doesn’t meet the user’s expectations, and that’s often because the app is clunky and unintuitive. If your customers aren’t using your mobile app, you’re missing out on easy retention and upsell opportunities, and paying an extra expense while you’re at it.

What consumers expect from a mobile app

So what does a good dealership mobile app look like? First, it must be intuitive. When the app is opened, it should immediately show users the main features or categories. Every tap should be filled with a sense of engagement rather than confusion. And when the user needs to go back, it should be easy to know where to click.

The experience must also be focused. Cluttered screens or poor contrast between text and backgrounds lead to frustration and distract from the goal.

Keep your users in the app as much as possible. Avoid taking the user out of the application. It’s tempting to take the easy route and send users to a web page for resources, but most app users find it annoying to return to the app from a browser window. .

Above all, they want value. For example, a contact page to schedule a service appointment can be frustrating for a customer rather than a built-in calendar to choose a time slot and service advisor. Provide the experience you want as a customer.

How to Deal With a Poorly Performing Mobile App

Review its functionality if your store’s app doesn’t seem to be generating value or leads. Have people outside of car retail go through your mobile app and break it down, letting you know where it’s not working. Then fix the problems, at least the main ones.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you’ve come across a dealership app that meets all the right ratings, contact the developer and get a version for your store. It’s tempting to find cheaper options, but that comes with the risk of poor UX, and it’s not worth it.

Then spread the news. Push your mobile app into the parts, service and sales departments, inviting your customers to try it out. A well-designed mobile app should generate leads for sales and service and provide your customers with retention-inducing value in other ways.


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