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Linda Pesonen

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Strength in Numbers: The Power of Network Solutions and Personalized Shopper Experiences


In my last post, I talked about how independent 3rd party research sites can help foster collaboration between dealers and OEM’s by uniting them through a more seamless customer experience. Continuing with an eye on the customer experience, today’s post focuses on another “outside-in” approach to OEM-dealer alignment: network solutions. Specifically, how network solutions can deliver a seamless and personalized shopper experience while benefiting both OEM’s nationally, and dealers locally.

An OEM-scaled effort across a dealer network can be a powerful go-to-market strategy, where deliberate and thoughtful coordination come to life in real-time.  Whether it’s through shared customer insights, or personalized shopper experiences, a network-wide approach can have many benefits.  

A network-wide approach uses key data and insights to:

  • Create a deeper, shared understanding of the customer that both dealers and OEM’s can act on.
  • Deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and in real-time.
  • Help both OEM’s and dealers deliver a personalized website experience.
  • Help both OEM’s and dealers deliver a consistent brand and dealer experience and differentiate themselves from competition.

The common theme in all of these benefits is the shared data and insights.  It’s these shared insights that drive OEM/dealer synergy.  Says Max Steckler, VP, Global Products and Solutions, Digital Division of CDK Global, “We can see the primary actions people take that drive sales, and what combinations of actions drive more sales.  The data allows us to see this beautifully and with fine granularity.  Through these patterns, we can deploy, optimize, and make changes dynamically based on consumer behavior.  That’s the real power of a network solution.”

Building a network solution is no small undertaking.  It starts with a shared understanding across an OEM and its dealers.

As Mr. Steckler explains, “There’s an initial assessment—but it’s much more than that—from the moment a program is conceived, to input received, designs reviewed, and a deployment in market.  We’re always gathering feedback about the health of the overall ecosystem to see how we can best support it to ensure it stays healthy.  The process never stops.” 

Moreover, “Dealers have a lot of strength and investment in their brands,” continues Mr. Steckler.  “To ask them to further share consumer awareness of their brand with the OEM’s is a big ask - and it has to be thoughtfully considered.” 

Dealers often view network solutions as synonymous with OEM control and the loss of independence.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Rather, healthy interdependence is achieved when OEM’s and dealers are both aligned and highly differentiated. Together they are greater than the sum of their parts. 

“Helping dealers differentiate themselves is one of the biggest opportunities we have” says Alyson Sharron, Director of Product Marketing at CDK Global.  She continues, “And, we do that by aligning to their common goals—to sell more cars profitably.” 

No doubt a network solution can bring a great deal of synergy across dealers and OEM’s.  It’s a highly considered decision that takes a great deal of understanding, planning, readiness, alignment, and trust.    

Most of all, a well thought-out and executed network solution gives dealers and OEM’s alike a competitive edge in the market via a seamless customer experience that is determined in real-time.  Not the exact same experience for all customers but the one that makes the most sense, in real-time - one customer at a time. 

It’s your turn. Have you worked within a network solution? Share your experience. What challenges did you face? What benefits did you enjoy? How did you measure success? Let’s get the discussion started…I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jim Dykstra
No doubt a collaborative enterprise solution would be more efficient that myriad offerings, the challenge comes when . It is not because I don't think a better mousetrap can be built but when it comes time to spend and design, dealers demand a "more dealer centric" system that will fall short with consumers. Considering the average franchised dealer suffers 66% turnover of sales staff annually, convincing a super majority to seed so much control to OEMs and consumers seems a long way off.
Linda Pesonen
Hi Jim, thanks for sharing your point of view. Glad you posted! Can you share more about what you mean regarding dealer-centric systems that may fall short with customers? I'd love to hear more about this based on your experience so I have a better understanding myself. Further, I'd love to explore ways to bridge the gap between dealer, customer, and OEM-centric needs. Given the issue of turnover you mentioned, what other insights can you share that can shed light on opportunities for improvement? Are there blind spots OEM's have in the context of considering these types of solutions? What are some other considerations that would be beneficial to uncover? What's worked well, and not-so-well? Again, I'm glad you posted, and I look forward to your further comments, and those of the greater community, in continuing the conversation....
Kevin B Leigh
Great article.. thanks for posting it.
Jim Dykstra
In the simplest of terms, dealers price people, not products. Used to be the same with investing until TD Ameritrade changed the paradigm by providing an online DIY tool and pricing their products ($7.99 per transaction) rather than the legacy model of 1% to 5% commission based on the size of transaction. An online process for a manufacturer limits consumer choice with the first bit of data entered, a dealer's even more as it locks in makes, inventory and location. Dealers will fight to maintain the ability to earn the max gross profit possible on each transaction (pricing people) until their is enough leverage to stop them. Given the top 100 dealer groups account for just 16% of total new car sales, getting a quorum on legacy dealers making an industry wide change is a ways off.

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