Dealers, auto finance sources, and technology companies are finding new ways to engage and inform customers before they walk into a dealership. They are realizing that an educated customer with the right information is further down the funnel and closer to buying.
This process requires more than just adding features to your website or having designer coffee options or a putting green in your waiting area. When we stop to think about creating the right customer experience or journey, the research, shopping, and transaction process must be a significant part of the equation.
One space to watch is targeted marketing that matches customers with vehicles during the research process. Doing so before the customer reaches the transaction phase should result in greater confidence throughout the journey and a less adversarial environment with fewer negative perceptions or inaccurate information.
Recent Advances in Digital Retailing
The study is one viewpoint following several advances recently throughout the automotive industry by dealers and lenders. For example, innovations such as the Fortellis Automotive Commerce Exchange, which provides an opportunity in digital retailing environments to connect data and leverage analytics much earlier in the process to help fuel tailored, consumer-centric experiences.
The available amount of intelligence, data, and analytics continues to evolve. Solutions that drive real value for customers will draw the greatest interest from dealers and finance sources. Investments in this segment will drive the next generation of connectedness that creates an end-to-end relationship with customers and their journey.
Transaction Enablement Gets More Streamlined
We are also seeing the emergence of technology designed to help dealers enable faster, more secure transactions through a streamlined car-buying experience. This is critical since, according to Cox Automotive’s 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study, fewer than half of consumers are happy with the average three-hour transaction time at the dealership today.
One new solution allows sold customers to review insurance quotes and speak with a licensed insurance agent while at the dealership or after they return home. The opportunity to view competing quotes controls their cost and can add buying power to their new-vehicle purchase.
As dealers and finance sources use data intelligence, new technology platforms, and analytic tools in greater numbers, opportunities to better understand car buyers earlier in the shopping process will proliferate. If they’re successful, the entire funnel will be more streamlined, from research to purchase.
Jennifer “Jenn” Reid is vice president of automotive marketing and strategy lead for U.S. Information Solutions at Equifax.