As automotive tech vendors increasingly push the importance of bringing the car buying experience online to combat companies threatening disruption, it appears that a couple of world-leading companies may be showing us the future.
An article in Marketing Dive theorizes that the trend towards a better online experience is slowly being overshadowed by a push for traditional in-store customer experiences. This could explain the curious move by the world’s largest digital retailer, Amazon, to open physical bookstores, along with its recent acquisition of the grocery chain Whole Foods. In addition, the world’s largest traditional retailer, Wal-Mart, is aggressively acquiring online retailers. It does seem counter-intuitive but, in reality, it’s actually pretty logical.
If you recall, way back in 2001, while everyone was predicting the death of brick-and-mortar stores, Apple’s Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Store – which many predicted to fail. We all know how that worked out as Apple Stores have succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations. Have you tried to visit one lately? 1) They are always packed with people; 2) Apple does a great job of servicing their customers; and 3) Apple is able to showcase its latest products and educate consumers on them. These three KEY elements apply to any customer-focused business, be it Apple, or an auto dealership.
While I realize most dealers will not have the same success as Apple, Amazon and Wal-Mart, the point is that the way to grow, and at least approach that type of success, is to realize that today’s consumers demand the experience THEY want on THEIR terms. For some consumers, that experience may be completely online, others may desire a completely traditional buying experience, while others may want a combination of the two.
For the future, those businesses in the forefront will be the ones that ensure their customers can have the experience they want, rather than being forced to endure the experience the business wants them to have, especially when it does not meet the customer’s desires.
In the end, what will determine your dealership’s success is how you adapt to your customers preferred ways to interact with you and whether or not you provide that experience to them, be it traditional, digital, or a mixture of both.
Author: Ujj Nath
Ujj Nath is the Founder and CEO of myKaarma (www.mykaarma.com), the cloud-based conversational commerce software that’s revolutionizing the auto service industry. He has 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and automotive industry executive. In 1990, prior to myKaarma, Ujj founded Syncata, a major provider of business consulting and systems integration services. In 2004 he successfully negotiated the sale of the company to ProQuest Business Solutions (NYSE: PQE), which was subsequently acquired by Snap-On Tools (NYSE:SNA). At Snap-On, Ujj was Vice President of Global Accounts and headed the Professional Services Organization for Snap-on Business Solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.