For auto retail, the omnichannel customer is a new opportunity
The retail industry was one of the first to altered by the advent of the internet, but retailers selling big-ticket items such as cars were initially unaffected by the change. Not anymore. Thanks to some well-known disruptors and changing consumer behaviours, the automotive retail sector has to make major changes to keep up. Fortunately, the availability of fast fibre connectivity means large retail operations can leverage tools like VoIP, streaming video, and social engagement to meet the requirements of today's omnichannel customer.
Retail was changed forever on July 16, 1995, when Amazon started selling books online. As fibre-enabled networks and other technologies make online shopping faster, more secure and more convenient, consumers are getting more comfortable shopping online.
The consumers entering the market for large items like cars today are a whole new breed. They are not only more than comfortable with online purchasing, they prefer it. They want video, interactive websites and a personalized experience. Omnichannel customers want an integrated experience; they want a seamless transition between websites and mobile platforms and the showroom.
Auto dealers have had websites for years, but until recently anyone wanting to buy a new or used vehicle from a dealer had to visit the showroom. And that is still the case for the majority of auto dealerships.
Your customers can build the car they want on, say, the GMC website, but if you don’t have that model with their preferred features in stock, they will be disappointed. The variety of models, features and available colours means there is a good chance their experience in your showroom will be one of compromise. And compromise is not part of the seamless experience they seek.
Who is the omnichannel customer?
Industry disruptors are taking advantage of that.
Auto manufacturer and retailer Tesla went public in 2010 under the direction of Elon Musk and overtook Ford in stock market value in April of 2017. A big factor in this success is that Tesla understands the omnichannel customers. Tesla has very few cars in their showroom, and the majority of the purchase experience is handled online.
On the Tesla website, customers select all of the features they want, and then their vehicle is custom built and delivered to the nearest dealership for pick up.
And if you think Tesla is an outlier, consider that Amazon has entered the automotive space. Your customers can use Amazon Vehicle for pre-purchase research. The company has also launched a service called Amazon Automotive in which vehicle owners can register the make and model of their car and Amazon will find them compatible accessories and parts.
You can learn from Tesla and Amazon and make your own business more profitable. The key is integration. You need to give your customers access to as much information and interaction with your brand as possible. Take your dealership online. Work on your search engine optimization to ensure that potential customers in your area see you first. Then leverage all of the fibre-enabled technology available to you.
Use 360 or high-definition video to showcase the interiors and engine bays of your current stock on social channels like Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram. Use video conferencing to instantly connect site visitors with a sales person. Use integrated communications tools to conduct webinars educating your customers on the auto market.
Amazon’s not-so-secret ingredient for success is algorithms that provide customers with a personalized experience. Combine intelligence gathered from big data with the expertise of your sales staff to tailor the customer experience with great recommendations before and after purchase.
The benefit of having to face the challenge of the omnichannel customer now is that other retailers provide successful models that you can follow. The big data and video sharing technologies available to you are mature and tested. And you have the advantage of access to fast fibre guaranteed to provide you with the speed you need to keep up with the omnichannel consumer and create new opportunities.
For more information on our fibre connectivity solutions, contact your Axia salesperson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-773-3348.