Change is coming to an automotive showroom near you. Carmakers and dealerships are investing heavily to improve the car-buying experience – a move that will help to provide a seamless end-to-end car-buying experience for consumers.
The overarching goal for car dealers is to make the customer experience more enjoyable and less time-consuming. Gone are the heaps of paperwork printed off slow, prehistoric dot matrix printers. They have been replaced with smart touch-screen devices and innovative technology that delivers the same information paperlessly and more efficiently.
What once took hours out of the day can now be accomplished in just one hour, or less. This dramatic improvement in the car-buying experience is due, in large part, to three areas of innovation investment by carmakers and dealerships that include:
- Transparency: With nearly 90 percent of car buyers today doing online research on vehicles before stepping into a showroom – and in this new age of market transparency where prices and vehicle details are available at the click of a mouse – this evolution in the car-buying experience was inevitable. Sonic Automotive, for example, is spending tens of millions of dollars to transform the customer experience at its dealerships and now establishes one price for a new car or trade-in – taking this decision entirely out of the hands of humans. In another example, Auto Nation has taken to trade-in pricing strategies, and quotes on financing – all online.
- Empowerment: Empowering customers with the information and providing a low-pressure sales environment has become paramount to retail success. Some companies have gone as far as cutting out the dealership experience entirely. Carvana places the control in the hands of consumers and gives them the ability to initiate the vehicle purchase. The company’s websites, once purely informational, has been transformed into transactional centers and locations are viewed as “vehicle vending machines” rather than showrooms.
- Efficiency: If the sales department is efficient with customers during the car-buying process, guesswork can be eliminated when it comes to customer preferences. Today’s car shoppers want a dynamic and satisfying buying experience in the showroom, as it is online. Sonic Automotive, uses an inventory app via its iPads at their imagination centers, that quickly searches for vehicles not just at their own location, but across all dealerships. With a tap, the best possible match for each customer’s needs is uncovered and offers more choices than the competition. The car-buying experience is more targeted, hones in on what each person needs, and fits it to their personal lifestyle. The customer receives an experience that is not only seamless, but also more satisfying.
The evolution of the customer experience will continue to evolve in the coming years as auto companies and dealers employ predictive analytics to drive pricing strategies and leverage Revenue Management capabilities to not only make the showroom of the future a more enjoyable experience for customers, but also to create a competitive advantage.