Updated: Aug 6
Traditional purchasing habits have been turned upside down in 2020. Because of the Coronavirus, the switch to a digital economy has accelerated tremendously. This impact is seen across the world and throughout many industries. Commercial trucking is no different. Delivery and curbside pick-up have long been common ways for people to buy food, but these methods soon may be the new norm for the vehicle buying experience. This purchase modality could likely stick around long after the pandemic as the millennial generation is set to gain an enormous amount of purchasing power over the next two decades. Therefore it is all the more important for commercial truck dealers to pivot to digital marketing and website optimization or risk losing out on a significant portion of potential customers. Let us explain why.
Online Shopping is Accelerating
Before the Coronavirus forced much of the country into partial shutdown for multiple months, 25 percent of adults purchased something online at least once a month (1). During the month of March, 42 percent of the entire United States population purchased groceries online at least once a week (2). Additionally, 28 percent of these grocery shoppers shopped online for the first time in the month of March (3). This is an enormous increase in people shopping online. Many of these new online shoppers are going to continue to shop online moving forward.
Now one might wonder, what does online grocery shopping have to do with purchasing a commercial truck? For quite some time, buyer expectations have been heavily influenced by online retail experiences. People become accustomed to using the internet to research and purchase products, and it spills into their work life, too. The explosion of eCommerce during the pandemic will perpetuate this behavior, and dealerships will need to rely on more than bricks and mortar to remain competitive in this new digital B2B commerce age.
The Coronavirus Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon
Unfortunately, the coronavirus is here to stay awhile. Just how long is anyone’s guess, but we’ll likely be dealing with its effects through the rest of this year. Pockets of the country could experience quarantines and tighter restrictions on public contact, meaning contact-free sales calls and service visits will be the way of the foreseeable future.
Commercial truck dealers who want to move existing inventory and increase sales by year-end are upping their digital game and finding ways to expand their digital footprint. Website optimization and search engine marketing are rising to the forefront as critical strategies to attract buyers who are actively searching online for a new truck, parts or a repair shop. Dealership personnel are learning to create detailed inventory descriptions and promote featured trucks on Facebook and third-party websites. One-to-one video is taking the place of face-to-face truck walk-arounds, and everyone is learning how to Zoom. While challenging at times, these adaptations are crucial for not only our health but also if we’re to stand a chance for economic survival.
Purchase Power is Shifting to Millennials
In 2020, Millennials are between the ages of 23-39 years old. They are no longer whiny teenagers as they have been characterized for a long time. Millennials now own homes, many have started a family, and some even own their own business. Millennials make up 25% of all small business owners who control a purchasing power of $150 billion (5). They make up more than 72 million people in the United States and out-number baby boomers as the largest demographic in the country (4). Over the next decade, Millennials are set to inherit $32 trillion from their parents(6). Many are being groomed to take over their parents' business, and some of that purchasing power will propel the commercial truck industry in years to come. Because of this purchasing power, dealerships would be wise to adapt to the ways Millennials prefer to interact and make purchase decisions.
Millennials have been exposed to computers and cell phones their entire lives. Instant information and communication are their norms. They also experienced the 2007 financial crash during a formative time in their lives. All these aspects make them a much different demographic to sell to compared to the generations that came before. Millennials are more likely to do their research over the web and they are much more likely to use a mobile device to communicate, watch video and find services. The future of Commercial Truck Dealerships depends greatly on the ability to meet these customers where they are and win their business.
Now is the Time
Since the COVID-19 crisis, having a digital presence is essential to dealership sales and operation arms. Whether it’s learning about various body upfit features or scheduling a service appointment online, customers’ expectations for online information and purchase options have increased. These expectations are not likely to subside after the pandemic crisis is over (7). Coupled with the already strong online communication preferences of the Millennials and their growing B2B purchase power, commercial truck dealers who invest in their digital presence now will reap the benefits this year and into the future.
1. How Many People Shop Online in 2020? https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/how-many-people-shop-online
COVID-19 crisis sparks ‘inflection point’ for online grocery — and huge revenue for Amazon. https://www.geekwire.com/2020/analyst-covid-19-crisis-sparks-inflection-point-online-grocery-huge-revenue-amazon/
How Grocers Need to Adapt Now. https://progressivegrocer.com/how-grocers-need-adapt-now
Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/28/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers-as-americas-largest-generation/
Millennial small business owners are a plentiful and profitable audience https://www.fastcompany.com/90466428/millennial-small-business-owners-are-a-plentiful-and-profitable-audience
Millennials Decoded. https://marketing.thecargoagency.com/hubfs/Cargo_Millennials_Decoded_Study.pdf
State lockdown orders have final mile carriers ringing more doorbells, bumping fewer docks. https://www.ccjdigital.com/state-lockdown-orders-final-mile-carriers/
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