Car buyers spend 60% of their time online and 56% of buyers agree that dealer websites influenced them to visit their dealership, reported in 2017 Car Buyer Journey study by Autotrader. They mostly spend time in researching pricing, compare different models, finding worth of trade-in car and financing options. A fast, no-pressure process, transparent pricing and low financing rates have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction.
2017 Digital Retailing Study by Cox Automotive urges dealers to focus on 3 important areas: Firstly, invest in online experiences - desktop and mobile; secondly, enable buyers to research prior to dealership visit and thirdly, when they’re ready, enable them to complete (all or part of) the transaction online. The key takeaway of all these studies is just one thing - customers are moving towards completely ‘digital’ and dealers needs to catchup their expectations.
With AI and digital transformation disrupting every industry in how business gets done; Automotive Retailing have an unique opportunity to leapfrog rather than scramble to play catchup, fast. Percy Urrutia, General Manager Sunshine Kia says, “we are using too many siloed in-store applications for closing a deal. It becomes really painful when we have many customers in the store waiting too long after they have patiently gone thru negotiating and finalizing a deal. We cannot sell a car like a cup of tea, we have to go through all the processes”. 57% of the delay in dealerships is because of the amount of paperwork - Infosys research reaffirms his views.
So, going completely digital is no longer an option; and going cognitive will give you the edge.
Are dealers digitally ready? Are they able to capitalize on their data? Do they use AI?
We have done an analysis of the top 20 dealership websites. The reality check is that, while they look very nice, these sites are typically cluttered with information overload more focused on SEO optimization and most of them are stuck at the digital divide. These websites just give a good amount of vehicle information, nice pictures and often misleading price and a bunch of disconnected buttons. But if someone wants to really buy a car, he/she ends up sending an inquiry to the dealer, “the lead”, that kickstarts the “BDC process”. There is no notion of omni channel view of the customer.
Buyers should be able to complete the entire buying journey online - do all the research, comparison, trade-in, submit credit application and F&I. Finally deliver the car at their doorstep. If any dealership is ready with these capabilities, then we can call them ‘100% digitally ready’ to cater to the new generation buyers. Customer is the Queen and her satisfaction comes first. If customers are able to do the entire transaction online, they will be with you. All the dealership processes and associated paperwork needs to work like a charm in the background.
There are not many dealerships who have successfully adopted this capability. Christopher Vester, C.O.O. at Hubert Vester Auto Group, says “we are one of the early adopters of fully digitization of our car retail business. We receive only qualified leads and deals and the conversion rate is more than 90%. Ultimately, our customers are extremely happy with our online cognitive digital storefront, GoGoCar”.
An integral part of the digital journey is in how the dealership is able to benefit from the large amount of data being generated across the different customer touch points, from marketing and sales to service. Consumers like actionable and meaningful recommendations and cognitive capabilities using Artificial Intelligence allows us to provide exactly that.
So the takeaway is, embrace digital, go cognitive asap to continue to be essential!
Note: This article was originally published in LinkedIn Pulse - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/automotive-retail-digital-transition-dealers-ready-tony-urrutia