Have you ever ordered electronics online, only to find that the instructions are missing when you open the box? Simply put, you have the equipment, but you have no idea how to use it.
In not so many words, this is the reality of automotive digital retailing today. Dealerships are plugging the technology into their websites without contemplating what sales process changes are needed to deliver a seamless customer journey. Over the past 18 months, I’ve seen many posts and articles highlighting why culture and process changes are necessary to ensure digital retailing success. After more than 600 installations of the Roadster platform, we can confirm from experience that this is true. However, many dealers continue to believe that simply plugging digital retailing technology into existing infrastructure will quickly result in incremental sales. The reality is that technology is not a silver bullet. It can facilitate many things, but it is how you use it that matters most.
Recently, we began analyzing the positive effect of a strong process champion on usage and performance. Not surprisingly, dealerships with strong champions committed to–and incentivized on–the success of the digital retailing process see adoption and conversion rates four times higher than dealers without a similar role. Without this role, dealerships who developed their sales processes in the pre-digital era will face monumental challenges from the likes of Carvana, Carmax, and Tesla, and other likely entrants (Amazon, etc).
I was inspired to dig deeper on this topic after reading a post by Rico Glover, Co-Founder of the Automotive Digital Marketing Association. In his post, Rico teased the need for dealers to establish a new position focused primarily on digital retail marketing. Rico is an automotive retail visionary and has been a Roadster Express Storefront champion at multiple dealerships. He has been on the front lines of the transition to digital retailing and is leading the charge to help dealers modernize before it is too late.
With the help of Rico and my colleagues at Roadster, I decided to take a stab at writing a job description for the most important position nearly every dealership has yet to fill, the Digital Retailing Manager. Digital retailing, when implemented correctly, impacts nearly every process and employee on the variable operations side of a dealership. For this reason, Roadster actually prefers to use the term omnichannel commerce, rather than digital retailing, to emphasize the importance of consistency and connectedness across the retail floor, internet team, BDC, and all other customer touchpoints.
Someone at the dealership needs to look holistically at the customer journey from beginning to end and understand how omnichannel commerce will require change for each role and each touchpoint.
Given the broad responsibility and the high potential for resistance from other dealership employees, it is critical that the Digital Retail Manager has sufficient political capital and management support to overcome the inevitable inertia. I can say with certainty that there will be significant resistance. Change will not come fast or easy, so commitment and patience are critical to seeing the evolution through. The Digital Retail Manager will only be as successful as the strength of the commitment from leadership.
Without further ado, here is the Digital Retail Manager job description! I’d love to get your thoughts. What’s worked for you? What’s missing?
DIGITAL RETAIL MANAGER
The Digital Retail Manager (DRM) will spearhead the dealership’s transition to, and administration of, digital retailing technology and related processes. The DRM is effectively the dealership’s “digital retailing champion,” establishing clear objectives in conjunction with the Dealer Principal and/or General Manager.
They will ensure that each functional group within the dealership understands their respective role and that the digital retailing platform is properly deployed and effectively measured to achieve the desired objectives.
Coordinating with dealership management and marketing leadership, the DRM develops and drives the go-to-market plan for promoting the benefits of digital retailing to customers, including platform integration within the dealer website, digital marketing campaigns, and point of purchase (POP) materials. The DRM needs to understand the full customer journey, with a focus on serving customers moving from online to in-store, and vice versa.
Success will hinge on developing scalable and repeatable processes for managing an omnichannel selling process and coordinating the efforts of, and transitions between, the different variable operations employees: Internet, BDC, Floor, Desk, and F&I. This individual will redefine each role and communicate to the affected staff how digital retailing can make their lives easier.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Establish short and long-term digital retailing objectives with Dealer Principal and GM
- Socialize digital retailing plans and objectives with each department within variable operations
- Evaluate digital retailing vendors/offerings, scheduling online demos and in-store presentations, with participation from a wide cross-section of departments
- Select digital retail vendor(s) based on capabilities that align with objectives, accounting for both short and long-term time horizons
- Spearhead integration of digital retail offering within website, online advertising campaigns, and POP materials
- Prepare training materials to support rollout of digital retail within the store, including a clear presentation of all process flows, defining each department’s roles and responsibilities
- Create/manage processes for digital retail prospect handling, including impacts on CRM workflows, reporting, and remarketing efforts
- Proactively solicit feedback from team members to iteratively improve the dealership’s approach and establish buy-in
- In conjunction with GM, Desk Manager, and Finance Director determine digital retail pricing strategy for new and pre-owned inventory, finance and lease rates (including markups), service and protection plans, and accessories
- Coordinate with Finance Director to determine which service and protection plans to present for different deal types and which accessories to present for each vehicle type
- Coordinate with GM/GSM to ensure employee pay plans align with digital retail strategy and desired behaviors
- With digital retailing vendor, conduct in-person training, tailored to each department’s anticipated use of the platform
- Determine, measure, and regularly report on key performance indicators (KPIs) that ladder up to previously established objectives
- Work with internal teams and digital retailing vendor(s) to iteratively adjust platform settings, pricing, and product presentations as necessary to meet and exceed objectives
- Integrate digital retailing offering (via kiosks or touch screens) in service waiting area to educate owners about offering and generate new business
- Coordinate regularly scheduled internal and vendor meetings to evaluate and re-evaluate objectives and associated performance
Qualifications and Skills
- Must have 7+ years of retail, software, and digital advertising experience
- Thorough knowledge of automotive retail processes and products (including financing, leasing, accessories, and service and protection plan offerings)
- Significant understanding of dealer tools, including CRMs, desking solutions, and DMS products
- High level of comfort with digital technology solutions
- Ability to think quickly on your feet and handle ambiguity without getting stressed out
- Strong oral and written communication skills
- Customer first mentality
- Process driven but flexible enough to adapt processes as required by circumstances
Many stores will have someone already on staff who can fill this role–perhaps a variable sales operations or digital sales manager–however, from what I have seen, most do not. I invite you to take an honest audit of your staff based on your current set up and ask yourself if this role, whether titled as such or not, has been filled or even could be filled with someone currently on staff. You may find that you too have this very important role unfilled at your dealership. But don’t worry — not only is it common, but it is easily rectifiable. Feel free to cut and paste the job description above to your website and job boards to get a head start. If you are going to spend money investing in digital retailing, then make sure you are investing in your success as well.