USING better technology to drive increased and more productive customer engagement will be key for dealers in 2020.
That’s according to motor retail technology specialist iVendi, whose chief executive, James Tew, said that whether customers ultimately opted to choose, finance and buy a car in the showroom or online, their initial interest will almost certainly have been digital – and that dealers needed to differentiate themselves at the outset with more usable and more productive technology.
‘Almost all initial dealer interest today is driven online, so that first period of digital engagement with the customer is crucial. It is important to make the process of first interest and first contact as efficient and effective as possible.
‘In a lot of ways, this is the most dated area of online motor retail, with many dealers relying on traditional search and some form of email to drive communication, but investing in newer and better technology can produce much better results.
‘The fact is that heading into 2020 there is technology available that helps customers identify the right vehicle faster and dealers to create a much greater level of engagement earlier on.’
Tew, pictured, said that in a market such as the one likely to emerge next year, with new car sales being tough and used sales busy but competitive, these differences would be meaningful.
‘Better engagement will mark out the dealers who are working hardest to make their impact in the market by meeting the growing digital expectations of customers through introducing more advanced technology.’
More effective technology did not necessarily have to be expensive and complex, he added. In some cases, it was just a question of rethinking the way dealers engaged with potential car buyers.
‘A good example is the work that we have done on a new vehicle search product that we are introducing next year. There are features included that are very advanced, such as a search that uses open and intuitive language rather than traditional drop-down boxes. This has taken some serious coding to deliver.
‘However, just as effective is the fact that we offer search results on a map when we are presenting group stock. There is nothing revolutionary about this in online terms – if you visit Right Move, you’ll find something similar – but it is almost unknown in the car retail sector and actually provides something new and of genuine use to customers.’
He added that iVendi planned to unveil a completely revised product range in the first quarter of 2020 to meet the changing online needs of car, van and motorbike buyers, retailers and finance providers.