Chicago—January 26, 2009—Cars.com announced today, at the annual NADA Convention & Expo (Booth No. 2941), the addition of internet chat functionality to its online advertising packages. The application, available immediately at no additional cost, allows franchise and independent dealers to engage ready-to-buy shoppers directly from their listings.
"Cars.com is committed to equipping our dealers with the tools they need to engage in-market shoppers, drive traffic to their stores and close more sales," said Dennis Galbraith, vice president of advertising products and training at Cars.com. "By adding chat functionality to our listings, we give dealers a powerful new way to communicate with in-market shoppers who are still on their listings and interested in learning more about their vehicles and their dealership. Every chat inquiry represents a potential deal and gives our dealers a new opportunity to build a relationship with the prospect and win their business."
Cars.com shoppers are presented with the option to chat with advertising dealers from several prominent locations on Cars.com's vehicle details pages, making it easy to connect with a seller for more information right from the actual listing. Links to chat with the dealer appear at the top of the listing beside the dealer's toll-free phone number, above the "Email the Dealer" form and within the "About the Dealer" section of the listing, expanding shoppers' options to connect with the dealer. To ensure a positive consumer experience, the chat application actively monitors salesperson availability and automatically takes the application offline when no one can respond to chat requests.
"There is a significant segment of consumers who are reluctant to send an email or make a phone call after going online. The addition of this channel provides dealers with a new means to identify and communicate with these in-market buyers while they are actively engaged in the shopping process," said Galbraith. "Additional leads from this segment, combined with the deeper engagement of chat over email, will result in more appointments and showroom traffic for participating dealers."
At Rothrock Chevrolet Lotus near Philadelphia, general manager Andre Johnson began using chat from cars.com in December as part of a pilot test. "It was amazing," he said, noting the store sold six cars in the first week.
"They're now buyers," Johnson said. If they're going to chat, they want to know, 'Do you have that car now?' You have a greater chance of selling them the car -- and not losing them -- than when you're emailing them information about the car when they already have that in front of them."
Galbraith said other dealers participating in the pilot program similarly reported early success and continuing interest among their customers in using chat.
Dealers interested in adding chat to their Cars.com listings should contact their sales representative. They can also learn more about the functionality by visiting Cars.com in booth No. 2941 today through Tuesday at the 92nd annual NADA Convention & Expo in New Orleans.
Online chat will be the focus of a DealerADvantage Live webinar that Cars.com will present at noon EST on Feb. 13. The free session examines how dealers can incorporate chat into their online sales processes and shares techniques successful dealers use to answer shoppers' questions, build rapport and set an appointment. More information about the session is available at http://dealers.cars.com/live.
Cars.com is the leading destination for online car shoppers, offering credible, easy-to-understand information from consumers and experts to help buyers formulate opinions on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. With comprehensive pricing information, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and a large selection of new- and used-car inventory, Cars.com puts millions of car buyers in control of their shopping process with the information they need to make confident buying decisions.
Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, which is owned by leading media companies, including Belo (NYSE: BLC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).