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Guest opinion: car buyers want a better online experience - it's time for dealerships to embrace digital technology

Priya Iyer 2017

Cars have always been the ultimate symbols of status and success. They tell something about who owns them, from family to personality and livelihood.

Buying a car is therefore one of the most significant investments an individual makes, which usually means this is mostly a complex, lengthy and stressful event.

However, as the automobile industry moves online, that significant experience can be made easier and more pleasurable.

Consumers are very much ready for a more immersive digital experience when it comes to buying a car.

A recent worldwide survey by Accenture reveals that, given the opportunity, 75% of customers would consider completing the entire car-buying process online.

With the advent of innovative live engagement platforms featuring mobile live streaming and out-of-hours service, this is now a reality.

Mirroring a personalised customer experience on your website

Customers can complete the entire car-buying process digitally without sacrificing the face-to-face customer service available at a dealership.  

Sitting in the comfort of their living room, a customer can meet an expert in a call centre or at the dealership through live video chat, discuss their preferences, co-browse with the agent online, and even see cars in the showroom or the dealer lot through a live agent-side mobile camera.   

The paperwork involved in the actual purchase is made seamless through screen sharing and co-form fill.  The idea of customers completing their entire auto-buying journey online is no longer for the future.

According to the Accenture survey, already 80% of people seeking to purchase a new vehicle use some form of digital technology to research their options, familiarising themselves with every aspect of a vehicle before they ever enter a store.

Plus, 62% of customers initiate the car buying process digitally, and 53% percent say that they would be interested in an interactive display that provides information on the models available at a dealership.

With co-browsing technology, experts can easily point out the features of various models, while text, video and audio chat allow them to gather information about customers’ lifestyles and preferences and answer any questions they may have.  

Companies such as Audi, Land Rover and Lexus have been very successful with this type of technology, using it to replicate and expand upon the experience of visiting a dealership.

A live video engagement platform gives the ability to mirror online the personalised experience customers receive in dealerships.

Customers also seem to appreciate the concept of live engagement, citing the fact that it enables them to interact with dealerships outside of regular business hours. One satisfied Jaguar Land Rover customer was “amazed at this level of support on a Sunday evening,” and went on to say, “It really raises the service bar.”

Conclusion

Digital technology is increasingly influencing automotive markets around the world. Customers are already turning to digital platforms when it comes to embarking on the journey of buying a car and they are ready to see even more. Live engagement is the next step in enabling a company to meet their customers at the beginning of that journey and successfully guide them throughout.

Using online processes to a greater extent for car-buying is becoming the norm, not the exception.

Developing a multi-channel presence to meet varied and additional demand, can only be an opportunity to increase profitability.

Author: Priya Iyer, chairman and chief executive, Vee24



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