31 December, 2019
With retail stalwart Macy’s announcing significant store closures across the United States, it’s clear that the reign of the brick and mortar kings has long since passed. Every business in operation today has either embraced digital transformation, is no longer operating, or has been purchased by an e-commerce giant. From local dealerships and neighborhood service centers to the largest suppliers of automotive vehicles and products, going digital is now mandatory. In fact, “traditional stores are closing down at a faster pace than ever before, with around 12,000 stores closing by the end of 2019, and the ones remaining are struggling to understand how to adapt to the new shopping paradigms.” Alternatively, “over 40% of ecommerce sales being done on a mobile device.” Striking numbers, but for those businesses ready to accept change an opportunity – that opportunity being data.
Considering the above, it should come as no surprise that some of the heaviest hitters in the tech world have made significant investments in all things mobility. For an industry where convenience and choice reign supreme, the leap to digital is the logical progression. Recall for instance that during the 1960’s drivers had to trek to dealerships for an oil change, however beginning in the 70’s were able to swing by a dedicated quick lube location and be out within minutes. The same evolution applies today with regards to vehicle service and purchases, as evidenced by the rise of digital-first dealerships such as Carvana. With vehicles being bought online in record numbers, customers undoubtedly expect the same frictionless experience when it comes to maintaining them.
Notoriously reserved with their adoption of new technology, many automotive businesses are finding the perceived hurdles to digital entry far lower than expected. In fact, most require no hardware purchases at all. With the cloud and proliferation of mobile devices, powerful end-to-end tools are within reach for businesses of any size. Vehicle diagnostics that but a few short years ago required a large hardware investment can now be performed on a smartphone in the pocket of a mobile mechanic. And, just as today’s online retail portals offer purchasing suggestions based on past views, so too can automotive businesses deliver personalized experiences to their customers. Through real-time vehicle monitoring tied to predictive maintenance, repair providers can shed paper and spanners for deep actionable insight into customers and vehicles. By leveraging Point-of-Sale software augmented with Artificial Intelligence built for the shop environment, service centers can expand their customer base by offering tailored services.
Moreover, by leveraging connected shop solutions that communicate directly with vehicles in motion, businesses across the automotive spectrum can finally make use of the data they’ve been so diligently collecting – by marketing to drivers whenever their vehicles malfunction, need repairs or break down. Whether relaying real-time sales analytics, telematics-based service demands, or leveraging AI for deep insight, solutions like those offered by SHIFTMobility help those wary of bleeding-edge technology easily adapt to changing customer needs and vehicle features. With AI by their side, these businesses will not only be able to suggest necessary service or pinpoint sales opportunities, but predict them based on the driving habits and preferences of the individual. Technology, from AI and chatbots to V2V connectivity are fast becoming the primary drivers for the entire automotive sales cycle and beyond.
As for the feared coming EV takeover, service centers can rest easy as despite the difference in locomotion these technological marvels will continue to require maintenance and repairs. Similarly, if at some point soon personal ownership should be eclipsed by vehicle sharing models, these businesses can simply focus on fleets. Simon Whitton, SVP at KUKA robotics, believes we should “see this change in the industry as a new opportunity to invest in different areas, like sensors, electronic controls and software. At the very least, some of the tools and solutions that Tier 1 suppliers are already investing in, such as robotics, will be useful whether they’re working on components for traditional vehicles or EVs and AVs.” In the end, repair shops will always be needed and competent mechanics always in demand.
Learn more about the future of the industry and innovative technology at shiftmobility.com/blog