Rethinking how we buy and sell cars

In the old days, it was simple. When you wanted to buy a new car, you took a deep breath and marched into your local dealership. You were greeted with a strong handshake and after a test drive and a polished presentation on the benefits of your preferred car, you found yourself sitting at a desk, signing documents, talking about finance options and wondering if you should get paint protection and the extended warranty.

Times are changing.

The traditional dealership model is being seriously challenged.
So what’s driving the change? The move to online research by buyers, disruptive distribution models such as Tesla, increasing real estate costs in heavily populated areas, the emergence of rideshare services and a changing attitude by younger people towards cars and car ownership.

So the net impact for dealerships is smarter, more well informed buyers who have a high expectation of customer experience, the emergence of non-traditional competitors such as Tesla and downward pressure on demand.

How are dealerships responding? In truth, dealerships are now experimenting with different models somewhere between the traditional model and the Tesla model where buyers look at a sample car in a shopping mall, then purchase online with their preferred options and accessories..

Dealers are using new and different ways of showcasing their cars – pop up stores, smaller but permanent retail spaces set up in shopping centres- each of which brings the dealership to where their buyers are – and this may be in conjunction with a larger space in outer suburban areas that holds stock and allows for test drives.

To remain competitive in a time of significant disruption, car manufacturers and dealers are turning to technology to increase efficiency, improve customer engagement and increase revenue.

Car brands are providing a large amount of content online which allows buyers to do detailed research before entering the showroom. Connecting this online experience with the buyer’s arrival at the dealer is challenging but can be done through visitor management solutions that feed online information to the dealership so the buyer can be greeted personally and have their preferences already known.

Digital signage – LCD screens, larger scale video walls or LCD signage can be used for brand promotion, showcasing cars in lifestyle situations – very important for younger buyers – or communicating the latest promotions. They help create a more immersive experience for customers within the showroom. Content can be managed remotely according to a pre-scheduled ‘playlist’ or can be customised dynamically according to the age and gender of particular showroom visitors.

Kiosks are also being incorporated into pop up stores or the smaller spaces in shopping centres so dealers can showcase all their entire stock, and this may include their secondhand stock.

More innovative dealerships are providing 3D car configurators in their showroom that allow customers to design their own car, select accessories and get an instant quote on their particular selections. Not only is it a great tool for improving customer engagement, it can increase the average revenue per sale.

So no doubt it’s a challenging time for car manufacturers and dealerships but there is a range of technology solutions that can help them navigate this time of change.

To learn more about digital signage solutions for the Automotive industry, click here.