There is a misconception today that installing a Digital Retailing tool alone attracts more shoppers and ultimately more sales. Unfortunately, many dealers are left disappointed when their sales needle hasn’t moved. So what’s happening here – I thought consumers wanted Digital Retailing? While we know that consumers do want to buy online, we need to better understand what role digital retailing has in the consumer’s purchase journey. To do that, let’s take a closer look at the difference between “Buying” vs “Shopping”.

“Buying” vs “Shopping” – What’s the difference?

With the ease and convenience of e-commerce today, the terms “shopping” and “buying” seem nearly interchangeable. But for the automotive industry these terms are very different. For the consumer, buying is a very straightforward experience – “I want to buy this car.” Shopping on the other hand can be much less specific – “What car should I buy?”.

Buying – Digital Retailing

The buying process helps the consumer move through the purchase process better, faster, and more enjoyable.


The shopping process involves emotion, personalization, privacy, safety, technology and budget.

Digital Retailing has many benefits for building a better consumer experience, but it doesn’t solve the basic question that many consumers have “What car should I buy?” Shopping tools help guide the consumer on where to start and what to buy, which can generate more leads and feed directly into the digital retailing strategy.

Where are my Shopping Tools?

As we scan the automotive landscape looking for shopping tools, you may notice a recurring theme. Many dealer’s sites throw every conceivable search and inventory filter at the consumer. This may work well for a buyer who has already narrowed their search, but can ignore a shopper’s needs. It simply puts the onus on the consumer to figure out where to go.

 Shopping Journey – Where to Start?

Think about your typical dealer’s home page as a tool for the “Shopper” and not as a tool for the “Buyer”. Is it clear to the shopper what tools they can use to narrow their search? Should they search for new, used, what about certified pre-owned? What about specials, incentives or should they get pre-qualified. Or maybe they should value their trade-in first? Where do they start? When someone asks you for directions, they probably don’t want you to tell them five different ways to get there.

A Personalized Guided Approach for Shoppers

tru Shop-by-Payment and Car-ED are two unique shopping tools that use technology to help narrow down the vehicle selection process.

  • tru Shop-by-Payment™ is a one-to-one personalized shopping experience, which connects the right personalized inventory and financing options to each customer based on their unique preferences and profile (including real credit).
  • created an algorithm with 11 quick questions that help identify cars that meet a shopper’s needs.

Tools like tru Shop-by-Payment that quickly narrows the right vehicles based on real credit and a monthly budget. Car-ED, which starts with finding inventory that matches consumers based on their own behaviors.

These innovative shopping tools find what shoppers will best “connect” with on a rational and emotional level.

Creative and inspiring shopping tools can actually move the sales needle and drive more buyers into digital retailing.

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