2010 was the year social media eclipsed search, facebook became mainstream and mobile started its journey to pre-eminence.
In the light of these enormous cultural shifts, the technologies actually change the way societies behave. I am often asked how the new consumer patterns directly affect the motor industry and how motor retailers can generate revenue out of them instantly.
Doing digital is more complex than just getting a new website, creating a facebook page or moving marketing budget to online media.
We all know there has been a huge change in the way consumers interact with media and hence absorb and react to advertising and marketing.
The shift is away from offline media to digital: search, pay-per-click, digital display advertising, social media marketing and email to name the most common.
Dealers know this. They understand the world around them is changing often because their family and friends are interacting with this new media so often.
I was at a regional manufacturer conference earlier in the year attended by senior managers from the motor trade and I posed a simple question: how many of you have a facebook account? The answer was less than 10 per cent of the attendees. Now this is neither wrong nor right – I am not judging here. However, it goes to the root of the reason why there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the internet.
forrester claim the average household spends 13 hours a week online with peak times between 7-10pm. Our own latest research has shown 51 per cent of dealer visits were recorded outside of normal working hours yet only two per cent of the Top200 dealers in the uK were using some form of live contact response to answer queries real-time.
It is unthinkable Tesco or EasyJet would close at this time. Asda was the first supermarket to open 24hrs a day and used technology to improve its market reach in light of changing consumer attitudes to early hours shopping.
E-tailer ASOS managed to triple their sales in the first year by focusing heavily on the functionality and usability of its site and by listening to their customers and their 24-7 customer-care line on facebook deals with burning questions from consumers in minutes. Dealers would do well to follow suit.
Having worked in technology across many industries, I have seen banks, supermarkets, law firms and retailers hunt technology that will improve their operations, open up new markets and deliver real competitive advantage. They leverage this technology and adapt their cultures and operations to deliver to their consumers.
In the motor retail industry, technology tends to be applied with an operations perspective, so, if it doesn’t make life easier for a dealer, it’s not really worth doing it.
Doing digital is about re-engineering your thinking, your DNA and hence your dealership in line with the modern-day consumer, not your own personal preconceptions. It is about delivering service, response and convenience the way the modern-day car buyer desires. It is time dealers understood the real value of internet technology in that it helps deliver consumer service 24-7.