What are your calls to action?
Deciding what products you want to sell, and who you are planning to sell them to, is a big part of the process. The next step is turning online consumers into real-life customers. You have to be sure they can locate your site, and create a call to action that pushes them to purchase from you.
"It's just like having a brick and mortar business," says Smith. "Just because you are there, and have the parts in back, doesn’t mean it's automatically going to translate into a sale. It's important to determine the way you are going to promote your site and products."
In creating your site, you can pay for the service or take advantage of free websites that enable you to upload products and information. You can ask manufacturers for assistance in populating your online storefront, by obtaining parts data and images from their sites. Once the site is built, you need to drive customers to it.
"The trick is getting them to find you online. It's no different than picking an awful place to build a beautiful dealership," says Smith. "You might have every part stocked, the most beautiful atrium and the best service people, but if the customers can't find you they won’t be making a purchase."
There are multiple ways to promote an online store. Some options are paid ad clicks, your web address on all marketing materials, or search engine optimization. However you get the customer to your site, once they are there you need to develop a call to action to get them to buy from you.
"Unless you are selling something that very few other people carry, you need to compel the customer to buy from you," says Smith. "It may not always be selling the cheapest, but it can be offers like free shipping on purchases over $20."
If you don’t want to offer discounts on price or shipping, speak to your strengths in service and promise quick shipment. It is important to appeal to the site visitors' desires as well as needs (the product). Doing so should prevent them from shopping any further after visiting your site and viewing the products available.
"Having the parts is good, but when other companies have them too, you want to be able to communicate what the advantage is of purchasing from you," explains Smith. "You don’t have to hire full-time marketing staff, just think about what it is that you can do for customers. Every additional bit of planning done along the way helps to ensure success in the end."