Used-car retailing in a digital world

Phil Curry | 19 Jun 2020

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Phil Curry

Editor Daily Brief

Phil Curry, Autovista24 Editor, is a seasoned automotive journalist, always keen to seek out and explain the latest industry developments

19 June 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has heightened the need for those in the business of selling cars to be able to do so without face-to-face interaction. Farid Kandil, senior vice president, Business Consulting Services at DEKRA provides steps for success to dealerships looking to digitise their sales and marketing.

Customer experience is central to sales in the automotive industry, and with consumers increasingly turning to convenient digital sources of information, dealerships (and manufacturers) must adapt.

Digitisation of the sales and marketing process poses a new set of challenges. Tackling them is primarily about retaining what has been tried and tested on the one hand, while incorporating new channels and responding to changing customer behaviour trends on the other. So, what are the steps to success in this digital retail world?

Learn and enhance

The used-car market has proved more stable and less vulnerable to shocks causing economic peaks and troughs than new-car sales recently. Recognising this potential, digital companies have emerged to disrupt traditional used-car sales channels.

Looking to the US, for example, companies such as Carvana, Fair and Vroom all operate sophisticated digital used-car platforms, using big data analytics to understand their customers. The new digital players know their customers inside out and shape their service offering accordingly.

Offering end-to-end transaction capabilities, extensive search options supported by high-quality photographs, exhaustive data points and custom recommendations – as well as a home delivery service – these companies are responding to consumer behaviours and demands in the modern era.

Go digital

The customer’s digital journey begins with an online search; visits to the manufacturer and/or dealership website; image searches; watching demonstrations and advertising videos.

At the start of the journey, a digital marketing strategy should help foster new business leads. Google AdWords campaigns, along with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and well-informed social media management, builds brand awareness and target specific customer segments. This allows dealerships to talk to the right people at the right time, with relevant messages. These campaigns are measurable and incur lower costs than traditional advertising, meaning a business can start with a smaller budget and adjust over time.

Start with strategy

However enthusiastic you are about going digital, it is wise to consider your objectives, market position, customer needs and product groups, and to derive a digital transformation strategy from these findings.

At DEKRA, we have repeatedly observed how retailers unsuccessfully jumped on the digital bandwagon when they are not fully prepared. Just because there is an internet page, some sales representatives have an email address, or the company maintains an electronic car file, these things do not automatically make that company ‘digital-ready’.

One has to differentiate between the digitisation of individual processes and the digital readiness of a company. The latter ensures that the entire business – all employees and processes – can provide a consistent customer experience with maximum efficiency for the organisation.

In the full article – Used car retailing in a digital world – Farid Kandil goes into detail on the three steps to success when considering an online platform. You can read it here.

For more of the latest thinking, insight and data from our Auto Mobility LIVE speakers and TCO Awards judges, check out our Auto Mobility LIVE Insights page.

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