Technology and digitisation is transforming the automotive retail industry in a number of ways. Benefitting both the customer and the industry, making it easier than ever before to research, test and purchase a new vehicle. Technology has also made applying for finance and funding for new and used cars a much simpler and streamlined process, with access to online applications and calculators, the entire process can be done virtually.
From start to finish, the process has been made slicker and more accessible. We’ve reviewed each stage and looked at how digitisation improved the customer journey.
- Online shopping: Consumers can now shop for vehicles online, which has led to the rise of online automotive retail platforms such as Cinch or Cazoo. These platforms allow consumers to research and compare vehicles in one place, configure their desired features, and even purchase a vehicle entirely online. After the pandemic and the rise of relying on home delivery, this has made the whole process of making big purchases completely different to the previous process of visiting a dealership in person.
- Digital marketing: Automotive retailers are increasingly using digital marketing tactics such as social media, email marketing, and targeted online advertising to reach consumers. Using social media platforms such as Facebook or Tiktok has extended the reach and expanded the audience that previously wouldn’t have been exposed to physical or tv advertising. Targeted advertising especially has made it easier for car dealerships and finance companies to reach their specific audiences, usually narrowed down by location, age and job role.
- Virtual test drives: Some automotive retailers are offering virtual test drives, which allow consumers to experience a vehicle through a simulated driving experience using virtual reality (VR) technology. This technology also extends to virtual showrooms, giving customers the option to compare multiple vehicles from the comfort of their own home. Companies such as Tesla and Honda offer free VR test driving and virtual showrooms.
- Digital servicing: Many automotive retailers are using technology to streamline the servicing process. For example, some dealerships are using apps to allow customers to schedule service appointments, track the status of their vehicle, and receive notifications about their vehicle’s maintenance needs.
- Webchat: A number of retailers offer webchat capabilities on their website, giving customers the option to speak to a member of staff regarding any questions they may have on their new vehicle, booking in person showroom viewings, changing delivery details etc. There is also technology available to make AI webchat, with the capability to go through each step on the application, payment and collection process without the need for a sales associate to speak with them directly. This gives customers the opportunity to apply for a new vehicle or finance at any time of day, without the constraint of opening hours.
- Data Analytics: Another way that technology is changing the automotive retail industry is through the use of data analytics. Car dealerships can use data analytics to better understand their customers and their buying habits, which can help them tailor their marketing efforts and improve the overall customer experience.
- Self-Driving Cars: Finally, technology is also playing a role in the development of self-driving cars, which could potentially change the way that people buy and use cars in the future. While these technologies are still in the early stages of development, they have the potential to significantly impact the automotive retail industry.
Technology has already revolutionised how consumers find their next vehicle, with each stage of the buying process streamlined to make it easier and more accessible for all. Most of these technologies are already being used by numerous dealerships and suppliers, with other technology like self-driving cars still being perfected. Since the turn of the millennium, technology has truly improved and transformed the automotive sales space.