Today, the customer is in charge. No one wants to spend any more time at car dealerships than they have to. They are looking for frictionless experiences. The industry has now had nearly 10 years to listen to consumer preferences and has done very little to adapt dealership operations to accommodate them. Disruption is at the door and now it seems everyone is scrambling.
There are salespeople that buy into digital transformation and have even leveraged the opportunities of the connected world. I hear from them and their frustrated colleagues regularly and they’ve given up waiting for the boss to accept social media and digital marketing. They need to make a living and they can’t wait for someone to just walk in and buy. They know it doesn’t work that way anymore.
Every store has struggled with adapting to digital and I understand it. Communicating a vision to transform operations in order to maneuver seamlessly through the connected world is no cake walk. It’s why I titled my book “Automotive Social Business 2.0” so retail automotive could begin to evolve and eventually transform into a modern retail business.
Retaining profitability in dealership operations has never been more complex.
Truly understanding the shifting retail landscape is difficult. There are many moving parts and they seem to move more often than ever before.
The need for the traditional components of great customer in-store experiences is still intact:
- Happy, helpful employees
- Clean, welcoming environment
- Respectful interactions
- Overall delightful experience that customers can’t wait to tell others about
Digital transformation includes all of these AND they are evident in online experiences too.
The dilemma of too much information and not enough knowledge.
One of my clients is struggling with digital transformation. His dilemma is getting buy-in from not only his superiors but from the rank and file employees. He shared with me an insight he discovered once he began comparing the numbers.
After reviewing some simple calculations, he found that 275 people on average physically walk into their store every month. He also discovered that over 10,000 unique visitors come to their website every month (this number does not factor in the traffic and engagement they get on social media channels).
He said, “Why are we spending so much attention and money on delivering a stellar in-store experience while patently ignoring the multitude of shoppers who come to our site?”
The best part about the numbers is that they’re true, whether you believe them or not. 🙂
I should mention too that this particular client is hamstrung by the manufacturer’s rules that are less like digital marketing and more like obstacles to sales.
As I interact with and listen to automotive retail leaders, I find most struggle with:
- Outdated platforms (websites).
- Too many solutions for problems they don’t have.
- Social media and where to focus attention.
- Nearly non-existent analysis of data (example: targeting ideal customers and proving ROI).
A holistic approach matters.
In order to succeed at digital transformation, dealers and manufacturers must think holistically about their strategy. Consumer behavior is driving retail change and it’s important to understand what those behaviors are exactly.
Ever-evolving consumer shopping behaviors are driven by:
- Channel-agnostic shopping journey. The use of digital tools and channels during pre-sale, transaction, and post-sale.
- Expectation of a seamless experience. Consumers display so-called omni-channel behavior and seek experiences that are as easy, fast and frictionless.
- Innovation as a new expectation. There’s a growing demand for shopping experiences that transcend beyond excellence which are unique and satisfy a need to witness innovation.
- Easy access to information that matters. Helpful relevant content throughout the digital shopping experience that bridges through to in-store employee/customer interactions.
Adapting your store’s operations to these behaviors is key.
As digital transformation strategies emerge, deconstructing the organization and restructuring based on specific goals will become commonplace.
We already see the need in the social media and digital marketing goals for dealerships. There is an emergence of customer-facing advocates (salespeople, service advisors) who engage the customer through all channels and all phases of the buying cycle.
Pro Tip: Use customer feedback to assist evolutionary change. This is very different than just catering to the customer’s needs. It’s acting on what customers are asking for.
Retail disruption is here and digital transformation is the way forward. The question is, how will you evolve?