Franchised car dealers need to be ‘omnichannel fit’ if they want to avoid missing out on customers.
That is the view of one industry expert, who says that retailers need to embrace the modern approach in order to ‘futureproof’ their businesses.
Steve Young, managing director of research and consulting organisation ICDP, believes that omnichannel is the best way for retailers to ensure a seamless used car buying experience.
Writing in Cox Automotive’s latest AutoFocus report, he highlighted the importance of dealers having a top quality website, allowing customers to carry out almost every part of their buying journey at home.
He said: ‘That could involve a personalised section of the website where they can save their progress and access it at any time or, indeed, authorise someone else in a contact centre or dealership to access it on their behalf. There are technology providers who offer these types of platforms, so it needn’t be difficult to implement.’
He said that retailers can no longer just rely on trade-ins as a stock source and must instead have an active online presence to identify and buy stock.
He added: ‘On a small scale, that is the job for the dealership’s used car buyer. But at scale, it involves a specialist team using data tools that ‘scrape’ the data from used car e-commerce sites and flag any that meet pre-determined criteria.
‘The aim for many is to get that car back off sale as quickly as possible, potentially within hours of it first being listed.
‘When done correctly, the experience of high performers in the used car business is that stock bought directly from private owners is the most profitable of all sources.’
Retailers should see increased sales and lower costs
Also commenting in the report was Cox Automotive’s insight and strategy director, Philip Nothard.
He said that omnichannel allows dealers to offer a personal experience and says that in time it will become the norm within the industry.
The 52-year-old also said that, in the long run, the approach will lead to ‘increased sales, lower costs, and better customer satisfaction’.
He said: ‘Car buying has changed radically from the days when it was almost a completely physical process. In the digital age, dealers are having to keep pace with technology and changing consumer habits, meaning their business practices must reflect what people want from the retail journey.
‘Ultimately, the same rules apply that have always done in retail, just in a different setting. Retailers should see increased sales, lower costs, and better customer satisfaction by offering a seamless journey and the best customer experience, regardless of channel.’