“I know digital retailing is the future, but I don’t see the value just yet.”
It’s the objection we hear the most often when discussing digital retail. Everyone knows it’s the future of the car dealership, but no one wants to take the plunge until everyone else already has. And hey, we’re not here to criticize – sometimes, waiting makes sense. Remember all those people who rushed out and paid $10 thousand for the very first generation of flat-screen TVs? Not a great investment, in hindsight.
But where early adoption can be an expensive way to buy half-finished tech products in the consumer world, the business world is a very different place. What do you, as a consumer, get when you buy the very first generation of some new technology? Usually, a very expensive paper weight (we’re looking at you, Palm Pilot). In the business world, however, your early investments get you a competitive edge.
We’ve spoken before about all the different cautionary tales of digital versus analog – Netflix and Blockbuster, Amazon and basically everyone, etc. – so we’ll spare you the lecture. Suffice to say that we all know what happens when traditional retailers dismiss the digital retail trend. And as we’ve already established, most dealers aren’t dismissing digital retail, merely procrastinating.
The problem with procrastination is that the industry is evolving at a rapid pace. Younger generations of consumers in particular (who are already less likely to own a car) aren’t compelled by the same sensibilities as their forebearers. Things like brand loyalty and retailer relationships don’t hold as much influence over young consumers as the perception of innovation and brand differentiation.
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Everyone will be able to benefit from a strong online presence – even the latecomers — but only the first to embrace digital retailing will get the added lift from differentiating themselves in the eyes of their customers. Consumers never remember who came in second; we remember Netflix, Google, and Amazon, not Hulu, Bing, and whoever Amazon’s competition is (was?).
Think of it like an investment in the stock market. Anyone can make money from a rising stock, but the people who truly profit are those who invested early. When your dealership invests in digital retailing ahead of the pack, it’s something new and unique that you can leverage in your marketing, sales pitch, and website. It makes you look forward thinking and future-ready, and by contrast, your competition looks dated and stale.
That benefit is a limited-time offer, though: once digital retailing is the norm among dealerships, new adopters don’t get extra credit for having a great omni-channel experience. It will no longer be an added bonus or a unique selling feature, but a basic requirement of doing business. Look at the other kinds of places you shop, like apparel or electronics stores. You're not impressed by their online shopping platforms anymore, because it's a fundamental expectation these days.
The point here is that while digital retailing can help any dealer, the early adopters have the most to gain. If you want to excel, it’s time to get digital retailing on your side and give your customers what they’ve been asking for all along. Soon, when your competition is just learning the basics of digital retail, you’ll already be a master — and a winner.
Since 2011, Motoinsight has been working with dealerships and OEMs to realize a new vision for the automotive industry through our leading solutions including MotoCommerce. If you’re ready to find out how your dealership can thrive in the digital future, visit motoinsight.com. Let’s redefine automotive retail, together.