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Designing a seamless digital-physical experience is the future for dealerships

2nd May 2018

Car manufacturers can see their dealerships survive and thrive in the digital age by seamlessly joining the digital and physical experiences they offer.

Brand touchpoints are increasingly moving online and recent studies indicate that it is affecting executive’s expectations of brick-and-mortar networks.

Our research indicates there is still value in physical dealerships for customers making these large purchasing decisions.

Here are the key points and takeaways from our most recent publication:
  • Customers still prefer human contact for larger purchasing decisions, as one of our research participants said, “I like to talk to a human being. That’s why I go to the dealership. I like personal contact for big purchases.”
  • Customer expectations and attitudes towards vehicle ownership are rapidly shifting.
  • Digital is part of that story, but cannot be relied upon to tell it in full. In short, when it comes to cars, humans still have a part to play.
  • Customers still visit dealerships as their expectations and understanding of online platforms fails to match the reality of the information they receive.
  • Automotive brand's digital channels will have to adjust to be more human-like, to instil confidence and gain trust.

We believe there's three key trends behind changing consumer attitudes towards developing a seamless digital-physical experience:

Trend 1: Connection

Customers are more connected than ever. Always on.

Trend 2: Personalisation

Customers expect to have personalised, relevant, and engaging conversations with brands.

Trend 3: Partnerships

With technology that truly responds to people based on their wants and needs, customer expectations of the relationship they have with a company is changing, from provider to partner.

Adjust or turn to rust

Here's two observations about how to create a seamless digital-physical experience:

  1. Bring the screen into the sales process. Show customers on the showroom floor how the car they are interested in buying could look with upgraded features. Also, consider the future use of augmented reality overlay that puts the upgraded car in the room with the customer.
  2. Enhance the dealership experience by connecting customers with digital content that they could take home and fall in love with. If customers configure a car digitally on the showroom floor, email the customer that configured car, so they can refer back to it while making their decision in the comfort of their own home.
The take home

Customer expectations will continue to shift, rising and falling with the latest innovations. The dealership is not dead, but it is changing. With this in mind, the automotive industry should begin to formulate some insight around the affect these fluctuating attitudes will have on dealerships of the future and how this impacts upon the physical experience they are offering in-store.

Read the article in full here on Automotive Management Online: Envisioning the dealership of the future - Adapting to changing attitudes.

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