Are you ROBO ready?

Converting online shoppers into in-store buyers

By Colleen Malloy

Your customers are doing more research than ever to guarantee they’re picking the right product and outdoor power equipment dealership to fit their needs before making a purchase with you. They’re looking at your online presence and visiting your website before they set foot in your store, and the process doesn’t stop there! While they’re browsing inventory at your brick-and-mortar location, many shoppers continue to research products and compare prices using smartphones.

So, what can you do to engage these ROBO (research online, buy offline) shoppers? Ensuring you’re providing the answers to their questions at each step of their research process will help you convert them from prospects to customers when they’re ready to buy.

Research online

For most shoppers, the first step in picking an OPE dealer happens online. There are a handful of places that potential customers might look to learn more about your dealership, and each one can strongly influence whether they decide to work with you.

Online directories & review sites

Online business directories and review sites, like Google My Business, Yellow Pages and Yelp, give your customers a space to quickly find information and voice their opinions about your dealership – the good and the bad. All of this information is out there for new shoppers to read, and there are a few easy steps that you can take to ensure they’re working in your favor.

* Whether you use a directory management program like ARI Premium Directory Management or manage your listings manually, be sure to catalog all of the places your business is listed online.

* Mark your calendar to check your listings once a month to ensure your dealership information is accurate and up to date. One wrong phone number on a directory listing can cost you a sale!

* Take the time to respond to your customers’ reviews – whether good, bad or ugly – to show potential customers that you really value their opinions. For good reviews, a simple “Thank you” and an invitation to come back soon is enough. For bad reviews, offer a sincere apology, make an offer to resolve the issue, and then take the conversation offline by giving the customer a phone number or email address to contact directly.

Social media

Social media has a lot of power over shoppers’ purchasing decisions. In fact, 36 percent of shoppers said their interactions with a company on social media has led them to buy more from that company.1 To get the most out of your social media presence, keep the following tips in mind:

* Be aware of where your audience is spending their time online. If not many of your customers use certain social media platforms, don’t invest your time in them. Instead, focus on the platforms that are popular with your customers.

* Consider running social media ads to raise awareness for your business. Facebook has an easy-to-use ad tool that can be tailored to any budget and can help counteract Facebook’s declining organic reach.2

Visit a retailer’s website

After shoppers are done with their initial research, they will check out your website to see if you have what they need. There’s a lot of information shoppers look for on your website, including prices, promotions, hours, location, product descriptions and inventory related to their search. So what can you do to meet their needs?

* Bring in accurate, consistent product information directly from your manufacturers. Incorrect product data can hurt you – 87 percent of consumers are unlikely to ever buy from a retailer again if they purchase an item that didn’t have a correct product description.3

* If your dealership’s information changes or a product is updated, be sure to make those changes on your website to always reflect the most up-to-date information available.

* Enable website features like related inventory feeds and suggested products to help customers find the best fit for their needs.

1610_ope_fs_robo-ready2_secondary-imageVisit in-store

Finally, shoppers will visit you in-store and hopefully leave with a brand-new lawn mower or chain saw. But just because they’ve made it to your brick-and-mortar location doesn’t mean they’re done researching!

According to Google, 79 percent of shoppers will conduct research online while browsing in-store using search engines, a retailer’s website or app, a different retailer’s website or app or another type of site.4 This in-store research might include comparing prices with your big-box and local competitors, researching products, or looking into service options, but there are a few things you can do to keep shoppers off their smartphones and get them engaged in-store.

* If you’re able, provide a price-matching program. This incentive will help ensure that you always have the best deal in town and keep customers coming back.

* Pack your store full of information. Include printed product descriptions next to inventory throughout your store, show product demos on TV screens, and arm your sales team with tablets so any information that a customer might need is just a few clicks away.

* Make your service department a featured part of your dealership. Highlight your service department with signs, and include content or videos throughout your store detailing what you offer.

With today’s digital path to purchase, many of your customers’ purchasing decisions are made before they’ve even set foot in your store. Be sure you’re providing the resources they need both online and at your brick-and-mortar dealership to ensure they’re choosing you for their OPE needs.


1504_OPE_FS_Social Strategy2_author-Colleen Malloy-webColleen Malloy is the director of marketing at ARI Network Services. Prior to joining ARI in November 2013, Malloy served as the editor of Motorcycle and Powersports News. She is dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website ( and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”