Automotive Retail: Digital kick Start …

The emergence of Covid-19 and the subsequent limitations on everyday life mean peoples outlook has changed. The way they go about their everyday business has altered. The simple truth, people remain hesitant to make unnecessary trips out, rightly concerned about the risks of doing so. Willingness to venture to showrooms and forecourts will be highly impacted, something not going to change anytime soon. To succeed automotive retailers need to now adapt and quickly.

Leverage Digital: Stand out, Influence and Engagement is Digital

Digital has become first and centre stage in every consumers life, be it digital immigrants or digital natives. Digital is the now more often than not the starting point in nearly every significant purchase decision, including automotive. Digital tools help buyers find products and solutions, compare alternatives, and assess the value of purchases.

With ease of access to information online, today’s customers explore options and gain insights before ever dealing directly with a retailer or its salespeople. Customers have become far more comfortable forming opinions by doing their own online research and taking influence from peers and social networks.

The challenge is that for most automotive retailers their digital presence is simply not good enough, they are not empathetic to this change in customer influence and knowledge. Automotive retailers need to now urgently reflect primary customer experience is now delivered online, and largely on mobile.

There needs to be a rapid refocus so that digital mediums now enhance customer experience and firmly support and guide the engagement and buying process. Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action needs to be achieved at arm’s length. For retailers: Stand out; influence and engagement is important to understand and get right.

The risk: get it wrong – rather than engage, people will jump away.

Respond to Change: Optimise and Enhance Customer Experience

Retailers can survive and thrive in the new world by responding to the changes digital brings to products, customers, salespeople, and sales channels. To succeed, a more data-driven approach to sales decision-making will be critical to deliver results.

As more informed customers shift power away from retailers, organisations need to respond in several ways: First, automotive retailers can influence their online presence and persona, ensuring customer experience is optimised and the information a consumer receives before engaging with salespeople creates a good impression and helps generate towards a managed approach or action. Second, salespeople must focus on discovering what potential customers have learned through their pre-buying research or pre-contact, to identify opportunities to add value and positively enhance customer experience. Third, the organisation should take advantage of the skills digital savvy workers and specialist consultants bring to sales roles, process and presence, learning and implementing to drive engagement and conversion. At the same time, these organisations should manage the diversity these individuals or resources bring by implementing more creative and diverse approaches to team motivation and management.

Multi-channel: Consider all Channels and disciplines:

Today’s prospects typically gain information from multiple sources. Information is “pulled” from websites, online videos, review sites and social media. Additional insights and influence can be “pushed” via email, text and from a sales team. Organisations need to consider all these options strategically.

To make multichannel and multi-discipline work, organisations need to start by considering and designing the mix that will drive towards the desired outcome and objective. The mix of vehicles and channels will need to adapt to customer needs and business objectives.

With the right channels in place, organisations must deliver a consistent customer experience and message. It is important to build trust and develop a deeper engagement. People will quickly become annoyed and frustrated if there are inconsistencies between what they read and then are told, for instance, by a sales person.

Data Centric: Use Data and Analytics to Drive Decisions

In almost every aspect of sales, data-driven decisions and processes must be the basis that that the organisation operates. Data and Analytics should be used to improve sales strategy, resources, sales motivation and customer engagement across the full spectrum of activities within the organisation.

Automotive retailers that proactively address these challenges are more likely to succeed in the changed environment that has emerged since lock-down.

Martin acts as a Senior Consultant of Digital at Centro Consulting: A world class Automotive consulting company. Centro Consulting