By now, we all know that digital retailing is here to stay. According to our latest Dealer Impact Study, run in May 2021 in conjunction with NADA, 86% of car buyers completed some part of the transaction online.
Why such a high rate of adoption?
Today’s customers expect to be able to buy everything online, especially during a pandemic. And cars are no exception. Digital retailing not only enables this, but it also shaves an hour off the transaction, on average, which has been shown to improve customer satisfaction.
Fantastic, right? Yes, but not so fast …
Are your employees embracing digital-retailing tools the way customers are? When customers interact with your dealership, do they enjoy the same efficient, modern experience that they did online?
In most cases, the answer is no. And it’s not because your people are lazy. It’s because the process and different systems they’re using don’t work together and tie into this new customer experience. We onboard a digital-retailing solution to provide a great customer experience and, in return, make it harder for our people to do their jobs.
To modernize car buying, we need to make it easier to sell.
If our staff is required to rekey information or are forced to navigate the inconsistencies between systems, they’re not going to realize the full potential of their digital-retailing tools. There’s no incentive for them to use them until we significantly change our processes (which some dealers have) or work with systems that can be seamlessly stitched together.
Unfortunately, the impact on the customer is real. No matter how great the website experience is, if a customer who uploads their information is asked to do so again because your employee is living out of the CRM, then you’ve broken the “easier car buying” promise you made in your marketing campaigns.
It’s time to ask ourselves this: Have we truly modernized the end-to-end buying experience or is our digital-retailing solution just a façade?
We cannot modernize the customer experience at the expense of the selling experience. If we process our way around it — limiting those handling digital-retailing customers to a handful of people — the experience will not be consistent or repeatable across the customer journey.
We know that salespeople who use digital retailing with every customer can sell more units per person than ever before, but if we’re not enabling every employee to offer this experience, we aren’t maximizing the impact on either side of the equation.
To see huge results from your digital-retailing investment, we need to look at how it integrates with all the other systems that your employees use. This is why you’re seeing digital-retailing players become part of larger technology companies in the industry. It’s time to take those solutions to the next level by reducing friction points across every piece of software you use to sell cars.
Getting real about friction in the process today
Anyone who’s spent time observing the sales process in a typical showroom knows how much time is spent bouncing between systems, rekeying information, printing paperwork and waiting on other departments to move things forward. You only need to ask a dealer, “Why does it take so long to buy a car” to get an earful about these friction points. Here are a few that come up frequently in conversations I’ve had ….
Multiple customer records: By far, the largest complaint about digital-retailing solutions is that they create duplicate leads in the CRM. Even for CRMs that handle deduplication with APIs, the deal structure information ends up in the notes, not mapped to the appropriate fields. This causes salespeople to live out of two systems or, worse, to miss vital information that could help move the customer forward.
Mismatched pricing: If the vehicle price is wrong, your digital-retailing solution is useless. Even if you can get the initial price close, once you make an adjustment in one system, does the update flow through the rest of your systems? The need to adjust pricing in each system or communicate why pricing is different to the customer are both significant pain points.
Duplicate desking: Rekeying a deal into your desking solution is a frustration point that’s right up there with the aforementioned CRM challenge. Manually entering a deal after the customer has agreed to terms online is time consuming — for agents and customers . It’s no wonder they don’t want to guide customers through online deal-building when the deal doesn’t automatically push into their desking solution.
Finalizing the deal: The last mile of the process has multiple points of friction. Not only are salespeople waiting in line for sales managers and the F&I office, but they also must manually print everything out — even items completed online — to put together a formal deal jacket. There’s no centralized digital repository for all this information, making it hard to truly expedite the final step.
The promise of a modern workflow experience
Picture a world in which all your systems and the data within them are seamlessly connected. Where vehicle pricing is the same, regardless of the system you’re using. The customer starts an order online and the exact deal is mirrored in your CRM and desking solution. No rekeying required.
Imagine if you change a number at the desk, it flows back to the customer’s view within the buying portal. And there’s one customer record to rule them all. No more waiting in line, no more printing. Documents are signed online and stored in one secure place in the cloud.
Everything is connected; the online experience, your CRM, Desking F&I, and DMS systems all working together on your behalf.
It might sound like a pipedream, but this needs to become a reality if we’re going to streamline the car-buying process and deliver upon the promises we’re making to customers.
And we’re closer than you might think as an industry.
Our Dealer Impact Study already shows that sales agents who use digital retailing with every customer sell an average of 17 cars per person, a 70% increase over the industry average. Consider how many more they could sell with seamless backend systems in place?
Backend system integration may not be the sexy stuff, but it’s the stuff that counts. This is how we get your entire staff to embrace digital retailing and sell more efficiently. This is how we improve car buying for customers. This is the next chapter of Modern Retailing. Are you ready?