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The threats from ‘digital disruptors’ to dealers in 2016 to be explored at AM event

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The impact of disruptors in the digital environment and ultimately the automotive retail sector will be dramatic in 2016, predicts Julian Wheway, product director of Manheim Retail Services.

Wheway is leading a masterclass focusing on the future of digital at AM’s forthcoming Digital Marketing conference on February 3 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

He believes the effects from a number of new companies, technologies and trends in the digital space, which have already gained a strong foothold in the UK, will come to the fore as the year progresses.

He said: “Dealers really need to understand how developments in digital will affect their business and we will be exploring the challenges and issues which we think will be crucial to address this year.”

From self-service and the sharing economy to connected vehicles and content creation and content sharing by consumers, Wheway will highlight the areas which they are now encouraging their dealer clients to take on board.

“We have seen start-ups which are offering to put sellers in direct contact with buyers and even manage the process on their behalf including undertaking vehicle inspection and documentation checks as innovators seek to exploit the peer-to-peer space, for example.

“User generated content is now a well established marketing channel with companies like Kia harnessing the positive comments in their campaigns and on their website.

“One of the major issues dealers will have to tackle is handing more control to the customer and taking a step back.

“Dealers are so used to directing communications and transactions that it can be a difficult concept to grasp and even harder to implement.

“Customers will expect to manage their own contact with dealers and communications will most definitely be on their terms so expect to see the rise of portals, out-of-hours contact points, more communication via social media and online forum and motorists establishing the boundaries when it comes to sharing information through the increasingly connected vehicle.

“People’s approach to mobility is also changing and whilst car clubs, where motorists pay a monthly fee to access a vehicle when they need it, are still relatively small in terms of market penetration and we are still experiencing record new car registrations and a buoyant used car market, eventually these trends will have an impact.

“There’s so much going on in the digital space that sometimes it is difficult to identify one hit wonders from serious emerging trends or companies. Our objective in the masterclass is to provide our views on the disruptors, who we think should be taken seriously and ways in which dealers can respond to ensure their own proposition is in keeping with consumer expectation.

“There are exciting times ahead and alongside there will be challenges and even threats but there’s no reason why dealers cannot successfully navigate the digital space to safeguard their position in the marketplace.

By 2025 I think we will be operating in a radically different car selling environment, how dealers respond to the evolving digital landscape and changing consumer demands today will determine which businesses will still be in operation in 10 years’ time.”


Wednesday, February 3


Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, with a limited number of supplier tickets on sale.

To book, please contact Emma-Louise Kinnaird on 01733 395133, email or visit


The Ricoh Arena, Coventry, CV6 6GE


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