Dealers are failing to keep up with the connected consumer, according to Hugh Dickerson, Google’s head of automotive.
Speaking at AM’s Digital Dealer Conference, which takes place on 4th September at The Motor Heritage Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire, Dickerson will explore today’s connected consumer as well as taking a peek into the future at tomorrow’s connected car.
Said Dickerson: “Dealers do need to know what’s on the horizon, especially, with the onset of technology in the vehicles they will sell but they really must get to grips with the present first and that means keeping pace with the consumer.
“Sometimes it is easier to not do anything because the world is spinning so fast but that would simply be commercial suicide.
"Others may take 30 steps forward but actually the rate of change in the digital world is, by comparison, a billion steps forward.
"Dealers need to adopt a mind-set which takes them way beyond bricks and mortar. The emphasis on the moment a person walks into a showroom is still massively out of kilter compared to what is happening online beforehand.”
Whilst the website is of vital importance in this pre-visit stage, Dickerson emphasises it stretches way beyond just the dealer’s site and includes social media, mobile, video and data capture.
“If I visited a showroom, viewed a car, spoke about finance, but returned the next day for a test drive arriving at the same time as someone else who had turned up out of the blue; would the sales executives treat me differently to the other person?
"Of course they would. They know who I am and the reason for my visit, so why, if I have configured a new car on their website or looked in detail at certain used cars and undertaken an online finance calculation, do I have to start from square one when I return to the website? Why, for example, don’t you take me straight to a page which explains the different types of finance available?”
Dickerson will argue pre-empting a consumer’s online journey according to the trail they have already left behind will lead to higher levels of engagement because information is new but a natural follow on from the online journey thus far.
This ‘sequential journey’ will be different for everyone but today’s sophisticated website tools enables such a level of individual engagement.
“These are the moments that matter,” said Dickerson. “And the key is to be there at those moments to maximise every visit to create higher conversion levels.”
With connected wearables being tipped as the ‘must have’ Christmas gift this year, an increasing number of objects are now directly linked to the internet and the car will eventually follow suit but for dealers, the most important issue is tackling the outdated retail model.
Whilst the majority of today’s car buyers are internet savvy, they still purchase according to the traditional automotive retail model. But tomorrow’s car buyers are a different customer altogether having grown up in a connected world.
Dickerson warns dealers need to be evolving at the same pace as their customers or risk losing business.
Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers for the AM Digital Dealer Conference.