An Open App Approach to Vendor Integration
It’s no secret that when it comes to solving any problem at hand, there is strength in numbers, power in unity, success in simplicity, and impact in collaboration. Like any successful relationship, business or personal, communication is paramount to achieving a common end goal. When two people are incapable of communicating, the relationship fails. Similarly, when two technologies are incapable of communicating and working together, the intended results of those tools are either hindered or set up to fail.
A few years ago, I presented a session at Digital Dealer about the Apple iPhone. Not because it’s the absolute best phone on the market, but because of its ability to integrate with other apps and technologies seamlessly, in order to make our lives better and easier. The reason the Apple brand is so indestructible is largely due to their App Store and what the App Store represents. No one can dispute the fact that out of all mobile devices, Apple consistently takes the cake when it comes to usability and simplicity. For the majority of the population, Apple devices are the easiest to use, the simplest to navigate, and furthermore they communicate with each other. They integrate flawlessly with one another through the iCloud.
When we take a step back and push aside the entire culture the Apple brand has created, we see the foundation of what made them so successful in the first place. Through the App Store, we see unification in its purest form. We see flawless integration and technological alliances. We see the reason people feel naked and lost without their phones.
I owe much of my success in the automotive industry to my ability to model what has proven to be effective in other industries and apply it to selling cars. On a daily basis, the App Store is used to improve the way we function by putting the world at our fingertips. Not to mention, so many of the best apps out there are free. If you use Waze, the largest community-based interactive traffic and navigation app on the planet, then you get it. Waze works by aggregating, building, and communicating its user data to determine the most efficient route from point A to point B. Waze successfully created a more dynamic rail system of data that benefits everyone on the road.
What if the automotive industry could imitate the business models of both Apple and Waze? What if we could create this same sort of unified data railroad? What if automotive vendors all opened our doors and shared resources and information that could benefit all parties involved? What if we could work together to establish the most efficient route from ad source to unit sold? What could we accomplish as a community rather than as competitors? Going back to the communication factor, we all have seen what happens when two automotive mar-tech companies can’t integrate with one another or work as one. Dealers suffer when their vendors and partners can’t communicate properly. When dealers suffer, we all suffer.
Big players in the space have already begun to catch on to this concept of one, unified and open data railroad. For example, last September CDK Global announced their new Partner Program, intended to create a single ecosystem of best-in-class vendors and approved applications that will integrate seamlessly into CDK dealer websites – the goal being to create a bulletproof structure of communication between vendors, dealers, and even manufacturers. Similarly, AutoHook has done our part by knocking down our walls and opening up our API, redemption platform, and attribution engine free of charge to vendors and agency partners. The value in these types of initiatives is bigger than all of us.
Perhaps the biggest impact this “open app approach” will have on the car business will be in our ability to attribute a vehicle sold or a service appointment scheduled to a single source. If we can work together to know and prove without a shadow of a doubt which source let to a unit sold, we can drastically enhance the efficiency of our sales processes and our marketing initiatives. We can stop wasting BILLIONS of dollars, dumping money into tools that can’t prove their ROI. Imagine that…a world where vendors actually worked together to reap the benefits of the bigger picture for the gain of an entire industry.
A unified vendor railroad of attribution and sales data would eradicate vague metrics and reporting so that we can get back to the end game so many tend to lose sight of. We’d know exactly which ad dollars resulted in customer engagement and sales and service revenue at the dealership level. We’d get back to why we’re all in this game in first place – to sell and service more vehicles and increase customer loyalty.
We’ve all been affected by the incessant noise the age of digital media has created. With new channels and new technologies entering the market at unprecedented rates, there has never been a larger need for both partnerships and unification. When we can communicate with one another, complexity and confusion cease to exist. The noise begins to quiet down, and you can finally hear the music.
I’ll be covering this topic in more detail during my session at the 22nd Digital Dealer Conference & Expo. Join me to identify the key success drivers behind Apple’s App Store and how we can apply the same approach to the automotive industry.
Author: David Metter
David Metter is the President of AutoHook powered by Urban Science. Prior to joining AutoHook, he served more than six years as Chief Marketing Officer for MileOne Automotive, a large, privately-held automotive dealership group. At MileOne, he built an industry-leading marketing organization, leveraging technology and the internet to increase market share while dramatically decreasing advertising spend per vehicle sold. David previously headed sales for Autobase, where he helped grow the company from a small start-up to the leading automotive CRM software vendor. He began his career on the showroom floor. As an early adopter of arising technologies, he built a prospecting and follow-up system that helped him rise to become one of the top Chrysler salesmen in the country, and eventually General Manager of a dealership.