Getting to grips with the digital world

How digitalisation is changing motor retailing

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Digitalisation has become a significant topic of discussion, as the commercial world and society are now fully immersed online, but what does it mean?

In essence, digitalisation is the integration of digital technologies into our everyday lives. Smart watches from the likes of Apple and Samsung are a good example of this, where technology has been applied to a conventional watch, giving it phone, messaging and internet capabilities. Consumers, and the younger generation in particular, now expect more areas of their lives to be connected. Even the car is part of their connected environment, enabling drivers to be ‘plugged in’ when they’re on the move.

As a result, the rapid pace of digitalisation is triggering a transformation from the product-driven automotive industry into a more software and solutions-focused sector. This is due to the evolution of consumers’ digital lifestyles and their thirst for innovative solutions to make life more convenient. According to research by Frost & Sullivan, digitalisation in the motor industry is expected to move rapidly from digital services to car as a service and then to mobility as a service with the car becoming a key element of ‘connected living’ by 2030.

The same report concluded that by 2020, internet-connected vehicles will become the leading application. Electric car manufacturer, Tesla, provides a good example of how a new entrant to the industry has developed a successful vehicle that places connectivity at the heart of its design and customer proposition. Tesla owners have no need to visit a dealer to access diagnostic information on their vehicle. Instead, IT networks remotely predict issues, distribute software updates and even make new functions available to the customer.

Use of digital is changing the dealers’ role from transaction-based into a relationship centred on adding value, using digital tools to support and enhance the customer experience.

Digitalisation is gaining momentum in motor retail with a number of manufacturers removing the distinction between a customer’s online and offline experience of their brand. The aim is for a seamless transition through the buying process, from web research and product configuration, through to making an appointment with a dealer to take a test drive, arranging finance and signing a vehicle order. This is particularly important for premium brand manufactures and their goal of ensuring a consistent brand experience across their dealer networks.

Furthermore, use of digital is changing the dealers’ role from transaction-based into a relationship centred on adding value, using digital tools to support and enhance the customer experience. Although some manufacturers also offer the facility to purchase a car online, such as BMW and Hyundai, the role of their dealer partners is crucial. Trained dealer staff ultimately deliver the brand through a test drive, as well as regulated finance products to meet the specific needs of the customer. In support of this view, a survey by Accenture found that 56% of consumers still want to test drive a car. The survey also revealed that customers appreciate the personal service at a dealership with 37% saying they considered consultation by the dealer to be very important.

Fulfilling customer expectations offline is equally important when it comes to third-party brands in the showroom, such as Autoglym’s LifeShine vehicle protection system (VPS)). Featuring Carbon Shield TechnologyTM, LifeShine provides dealers the opportunity to offer a highly effective means of maintaining the pristine appearance of a new vehicle, whilst securing incremental business. Here, the LifeShine exterior and interior surface protection proposition is especially relevant, thanks to its ability to mitigate against the effects of the elements and contaminants on paintwork and glass, or spilt food and drink on interior surfaces.

To get this message across, Autoglym has embraced digitalisation to support dealers with a range of measures including the LifeShine App, a simple-to-use interactive tool that enables sales staff to present the features and benefits of LifeShine to customers from a tablet or desktop as well as emailing a personalised quotation to help them make an informed decision outside of the showroom.

To discover more about how LifeShine can benefit your business, please call 01462 677766 or email lifeshine@autoglym.com.

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