6 July, 2020
Once regarded as convenient alternatives to car ownership for city-dwellers, public transportation and shared-mobility services have since lost their luster in the age of social distancing and crowd avoidance. Instead, consumers are increasingly turning to personal vehicles as a sanctuary amidst the chaos. McKinsey stats that “personal vehicles will likely supplant public transport for many consumers because the threat of contagion outweighs considerations related to cost and convenience.” Those with newfound eagerness to get behind the wheel will find a transformed purchasing experience. With potential customers’ still wary of in-person shopping, online vehicle marketplaces have been catapulted into the gateway to new car purchases.
One of the final bastions of sustained resistance to complete e-commerce implementation, automotive dealerships are finally shifting interactions from the showroom floor to the digital storefront. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, indicated that “750 of its dealers had signed up for its “Shop Click Drive” e-commerce system since the outbreak began. More than 85 percent of its dealers in the United States now use it.” Similarly, Mike Jackson, head of AutoNation, believes that the industry has reached “…an inflection point, a strategic shift, and it’s not going back.” Yet again, Tesla has proved itself the vanguard of the automotive industry by leveraging online vehicle sales, financing, and payment processing from the get-go.
Customer expectations have changed, as well. Today, if you want it, it’s only a click away. Why should cars be any different? Manufacturer and incentive issues are often cited as primary reasons traditional automotive retailers have yet to fully transition to the digital realm, though shielding prices from a competitor down the street means little if your true rival is mobile-enabled.
“The increased affinity for internet purchases may create an emerging opportunity for new business models or service options.” McKinsey
The pandemic and accompanying shutdown have reverberated through the automotive industry like no crisis before; even local dealerships are offering extended service offerings to lure in weary customers. What many refuse to acknowledge, however, is that the shopper journey now begins and ends in a browser window. As such, a digital deployment plan is critical for long-term business survivability. Consumer-first solutions provide the answer for dealerships struggling to adapt to changing market dynamics. Furthermore, with consumers already familiar with online shopping, there is no training necessary.
With web consumption at an all-time high, it’s worth noting that the digital storefront is unique in its ability to personalize content to shopper preferences. According to Wards Auto, “Digital Retail engagement rates grew by 25% since the beginning of March and…digital-retailing deal and credit applications up 13% compared with the end of February.” Moreover, personalized digital engagement does not end at the sale. Rather, dealerships can continue to drive relevant content and targeted deals to customers already growing suspicious of arbitrary 30k-60k-90k maintenance schedules. These days, one size does not fit all.
Regardless of when current market conditions ease, it is unlikely that customers will gravitate back to showroom shopping once they are familiar with an intrinsically more convenient option. If the ability to draw a straight line from vehicle purchase through its maintenance lifecycle and beyond sounds out of reach for your business, think again. SHIFTMobility streamlines dealership processes and transactions with fully automated digital documents and personalized customer engagement, all secured by blockchain technology. However, digital transformation is more than any one technology. Amit Zavery, head of Platform for Google Cloud, states its true goal is “to achieve an ongoing state of IT agility that lets an enterprise continually adapt to changes in customer preference and marketplace dynamics.” Indeed, automotive dealerships simply require the means to repurpose their capabilities and transition their services to the digital realm. And with the right solution, doing so is now easier than ever.
“The emergence of innovative services leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, e-mobility, blockchain, and big data has enabled SHIFTMobility, through its Automotive Platform, to offer applications that redefine the anytime-anywhere experience on a global scale and deliver the contactless digital transformation the industry demands. These services and applications create uncompromisingly unique vehicle and service sales experiences fueled by data and built for the mobility ecosystem.” Pavana Jain, CEO
With SHIFTMobility, traditional dealerships can transform paper contracts into digitized smart contracts, connect to vehicles for proactive maintenance suggestions, alert users when their warranty is ending, and engage and reward customers using digital tokens to build loyalty to the brands they sell and the services they perform. For customers, the app drives engagement with gamification, real-time alerts, and fast access to vehicle documents. No other solution encourages dealership footfall throughout the entire vehicle lifecycle – and with footfall currently in a free fall, digital customer engagement has never been more important.
Perpetual agility is what is needed to conquer this once-in-a-lifetime industry shift. Learn how SHIFTMobility is driving the automotive industry for this mile and the next here.