Dealers that are developing smartphone applications should look at making them compatible on Android phones to reach the largest pool of customers in the UK.
According to analysis of 100 dealers by automotive software developer, DCML, only 26.6% of dealer apps are available on Android, despite the fact the Google Operating System is now responsible for 60% of all UK smartphone sales.
The research discovered that 30.61% of dealers have invested in developing a smartphone app so far.
In the first quarter of 2013, 13.4bn apps were downloaded globally.
Analysts forecast smartphone sales will account for 46% of all mobile sales in the UK by the end of the year.
Nick Flaherty, chief technical officer of DCML, said: “Against this backdrop, dealers investing in Apple only versions of their apps are simply failing to see the bigger picture and losing out on sales engagement opportunities with customers.”
Android’s operating system now accounts for approximately 60% of all smartphone and tablet sales, with Apple taking 20% and Microsoft’s Mobile Windows delivering a further 20% of the market.
Flaherty asserts that, with a mix of dealer proprietory and manufacturer-created apps, dealer adoption of apps as a marketing and sales mechanic is still in its infancy.
He said: “At the moment, apps are still just seen as the bastion of the sales process.
“But, for engagement and streamlining business efficiencies, aftersales-focused apps provide a real opportunity for servicing, MoT, vehicle health check promotions and more.”
Smartphone applications will only be successful if linked to something which is fun, entertaining or from the dealer perspective, it must feature a particularly unique and useful functionality. A useful app could enchance a dealer's web offering in addition to a mobile compatible website which works smoothly on smartphones and tablets.
Rybrook BMW’s app was highlighted as a good example of what dealers can do using smartphone technology to engage with customers.
The Rybrook app provides up-to-date visibility of all current used stock, it provides for push notifications of special events and promotions directly to the end user’s smartphone.
Running in parallel with current trends, tablet sales are expected to top 208m units in 2013 globally.
Flaherty said: “Consumer expectation is beyond dealer application at present.
“By 2017, three of every four online sales will be derived from tablet and smartphone technology. Dealers need to start scoping out how they can embrace this to benefit their sales and customer retention functions.”