If you’re lucky, for the past couple of weeks you’ve been enjoying the pleasures of the 2016 NADA Convention and Expo in sunny Las Vegas. If you’re less lucky, and you’re anything like us, you have been following the exciting, exotic goings on from dear old Blighty. It’s a hard life (it really is, we’re very jealous, please don’t tell us how wonderful it was…).
Now that NADA has drawn to a close we wanted to pull together some of the key things that we’ve picked up – both from the convention and from the American dealer market in general. We know that they tend to be a couple of steps ahead of the UK motor trade with all things digital, and that offers a real learning opportunity.
So, what does the US have to teach us?
An Upcoming Trend for System Customisation
Dealer systems – such as CRMs, LMS and DMS solutions – are starting to get increasingly customisable.
Interestingly, this is at the same time as the automotive industry in general are starting to update factory solutions so that new cars can be more easily personalised. This really is an overarching automotive trend.
Providers of the dealer solutions are the focus here – making their systems adaptable to fit the varied and ever-changing needs to different deals – from different sizes and numbers of locations through to the differing standards and requirements of their brands and franchises.
What can UK suppliers take from this?
We’re not saying you have to forget consistency and product portfolios. However, now is the time to start thinking about the route your product will take, and how you can make it easily “tweakable” to meet your dealer client’s needs. It’s something we at Bluesky will also have to think about moving forward – indeed, we’ve already been customising our Cognition dealer admin for different requirements! Thankfully our websites are already bespoke, so in that arena we have a real head start.
Some Super-Advanced Showroom Technology
We noticed companies like Pearl Technologies showcasing ever-more-advanced showroom screens and technologies, and think UK dealers are going to need to get more digital in this arena too.
The stand we saw featured Genius Stations – large interactive touch screen displays that stood on the ground, and provided a more seamless experience for shoppers who started their vehicle purchase online. Plus, it demonstrates the digital knowledge of the dealership and excites / engages the car buying customer in the bargain.
We’ve been talking to dealers about how they can deliver an Omni-Channel Experience recently, and this is one way to make this work. Keep an eye out for a more in-depth blog post on the topic next week!
New Ways to Showcase Used Cars
The range of tech to show off your used car stock at NADA was quite frankly astonishing.
Most of it focused on offering a more exciting, engaging and comprehensive experience for your customers, moving them ever closer to being able to purchase or reserve the car online. We may be a while off this trend in the UK, but this is definitely an area that is worth the investment and training now so that you are ahead of the crowd when people are ready to buy your cars online.
We’ve actually partnered with one of the exciting products offered at NADA, called Car360. This allows dealers to use a simple app on their iPhone to generate interactive, smooth 360 degree panoramas of their used cars, including highlighting “hotspots” where they want to include HD photos, video and more information. In combination with a 360 camera, the app can even produce 360 shots of the used car’s interior. Give us a shout if you want any more information.
The Importance of Taking Responsibility for Your Data
It’s maybe not as fun as exciting new technology, but some interesting data protection debates were held at the 2016 NADA Convention.
In particular, one debate discussed the responsibilities that come with gathering customer data, and concluded that the responsibility fell to the dealership who collected it. That means it is up to you to keep that data secure, to use it only for what it was provided for, and to be wise with any marketing efforts or targeting you do with that data.
The responsibility covers security, infrastructure areas, and then the fluffier, strategic areas. In short though, we need to learn from the US in advance of our upcoming data protection rule changes, and make sure that we know what we are doing.
Prioritising salespeople as well as cars
A lot of the technology, strategy and changes we read about focus on helping customers choose the right car for them (and for you). However, NADA and the US market are starting to realign that focus to equally encompass the salesperson.
Much as a customer will look at reviews, feedback and more to choose their next vehicle, so the US is starting to apply the same approach to who the customer chooses to interact with. By providing reviews, performance scores and personable, meet the team style information on the salespeople available, the customer can match themselves to the salesperson they trust the most.
Immediately the conversion rate from enquiry to purchase skyrockets, and the potential to retain that customer improves going forward too.
Should the UK be looking at how to personalise their online presence too, alongside “reviewing” their team members? We’ve already tested adding relevant or experienced people to contact forms on websites such as City West Commercials and have seen a big jump in conversion, so the logic seems sound to us.
Did you pick anything else up at NADA that you think would be useful for the UK dealer environment to learn from?