Consumer Expectations are Redefining the Dealership Retail Experience
Almost every automotive ad today refers to the lengths dealerships and service centers go to reassure wary consumers with promises of contactless services, complimentary drop-offs, and disinfecting specials. For an industry that has traditionally prided itself on successful face-to-face selling, the pandemic-driven decline in footfall came as a rude awakening. Like other struggling industries, the answer lies in digital enablement. Unlike others, dealerships overall deployed fragmented strategies that have failed to deliver a comprehensive digital solution.
Does anyone believe that once showroom traffic returns customers will so easily discard the convenience, security, and peace of mind that comes with digital purchasing?
The demand for digital is real, and while many of these hastily deployed stopgap measures have enabled businesses to increase data collection in preparation for eventual dealership visits, they do not provide the comprehensive digital transformation necessary to outlast the current sales depression. Does anyone believe that once showroom traffic returns customers will so easily discard the convenience, security, and peace of mind that comes with digital purchasing? Consumers now expect a unified journey from purchase through ownership lifecycle. According to a recent IHS Markit study “65% of dealers expect accelerated development of online vehicle sales and booking platforms,” while roughly half of those surveyed expect to be able to complete the entire vehicle purchase online. Complicating matters are franchise laws, which vary by state, and technological limitations within OEMs and dealerships.
Luckily, this is not a zero-sum game. Many industry analysts fully anticipate online and showroom shopping to coexist well into the future. While the pandemic forced many of these dealerships to adapt business practices in real-time, the transformation to decentralized, consumer-centric automotive solutions has only accelerated. OEMs and their dealership channels must now capitalize on these new opportunities by redefining the customer relationship to successfully navigate the evolving automotive retail landscape.
Mastering the digital customer experience is one such means; and with more consumer data available than ever before, completely contactless omni-channel experiences are now within reach of any organization. Deloitte found that many customers are even willing to trade “…their personal information for enhanced experiences, sometimes even paying for the privilege.” By combining everything from a user’s vehicle purchase documentation to insurance, inspections, parts replaced, and service history in a singular thread, dealerships and owners alike gain the means to share preferences, records, and needs quickly, securely, and remotely. Backed by digitized documents and robust KYC, businesses who leverage agile digital platforms can deliver just that.
Shoppers want their car buying experience to be as simple and quick as possible, but completing the digital customer journey is about more than simply streamlining the vehicle purchase.
Shoppers want their car buying experience to be as simple and quick as possible, but completing the digital customer journey is about more than simply streamlining the vehicle purchase, it’s about empowering stakeholders throughout the industry with the freedom, transparency, and true innovation necessary to drive enhanced safety and personalized engagement from the time of vehicle purchase through its lifecycle and beyond. Most importantly, comprehensive digital integration will provide a consistent customer experience regardless of purchase or service location.
Connected homes recall user settings and even interface with smartphone assistants; advances in technology can now bring this level of connectivity to the places in-between.
Connected homes recall user settings and even interface with smartphone assistants; advances in technology can now bring this level of connectivity to the places in-between. Digital platforms provide the backend that OEMs, dealerships, and third-party organizations need to tap into the next generation of personalized experiences – while leaving the customer in the driver’s seat with full transparency and control of their data. As a pioneer of the digital automotive platform, SHIFTMobility’s blockchain-backed solutions have been designed from the ground up to support and enable an integrated online customer experience. Regardless of when the pandemic subsides, successfully wielding digital engagement will define success for the future and beyond. Doesn’t it seem alien that an industry on the cusp of realizing driverless cars has yet to fully digitize the customer experience? It’s time to stop playing catch up.