Would you agree with me that the internet has happened?

If you’re starting to think of a digital strategy now, you’re potentially late! You’ve got a lot of work to do as a car dealership. It doesn’t mean you can’t WIN because dealerships in South Africa are not doing this kind of thing at scale and with momentum yet. There’s still a lot of work to do.

Let’s bust a few myths:

Myth 1 -- The offline and online experience in our automotive world is separate

This concept is also known as Digital Retailing and it makes the online & offline experience a continuum not 2 separate events.

Myth 2 -- My desktop is enough

How many of you have looked at your dealership website in the past week? Hopefully all of you…How many have looked at your dealership website on a mobile device? Over 70% of consumers use a mobile phone to do everything in their lives, including shopping for a car. If you are looking at your car dealership’s website only from a desktop’s perspective, you’re missing 70% of what your customer is seeing.

 Myth 3 -- The internet is a competitor

If you get the concept of consumer attention, you’ll see that the internet is actually a partner and not a competitor. There are more ways to be successful today than there were 50 years ago. I can’t think of a better time to be alive than today. I wouldn’t want to have lived 100 years ago. Today, I think is the most exciting time to be alive.

Myth 4 -- Maths means brand isn’t important

Everything is measurable on the internet, we sit behind our computers and that becomes the console for the starship enterprise. Because we think everything is measurable, but, there’s one thing that artificial intelligence hasn’t figured out yet, human emotion! Whilst we can measure everything, we can’t predict people’s emotions because their circumstances, their context, changes in unpredictable ways -- day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month.

Myth 5 -- The internet will kill your dealership

According to local and international research, dealer visits have dropped from 5 to 2 per consumer. Consumers still want to fulfil the transaction inside the dealership, in front of a human being. The car dealership is going nowhere in the near future.

 

The impact of internet user adoption on the Car Dealership

Nothing shows that the internet has happened like user adoption. At the moment there are over 31 million internet users in SA -- but that’s not the most important part. Which means the people visiting your car dealership’s website, your cars, your social media platforms and your physical dealership have got more & more & more research experience under their belt, they are no longer babies. People have significant amounts of internet research experience and capability. They know how to find stuff; they know how to research stuff -- I mean you’re a consumer too, right? With that said, we can see that user adoption is closely coupled with internet speed.

How will the car shopping journey change as internet speeds increase?

If the car shopping journey and the way the consumer searches, researches and how they interact with your car dealership has changed in the last 5 years as a result of user adoption and internet speed, what is going to happen when we have 5G? You can bet your bottom dollar that the way in which the car shoppers search for cars, and buy cars, will change a little bit more. I would encourage you to understand what they do when 5G starts to really happen.

Global trends in the Auto Industry

Consumers will research your car dealership brand online before buying

I’m not talking about BMW, Mercedes Benz Volkswagen, etc, I’m talking about your car dealership brand and YOU (believe it or not, people stalk you), they will research you before buying a car from you, this is 22%, up 15% YoY. What percentage of people will research your car dealership brand in the next 12 months? How does this affect whether they contact you or not? Are you standing out?

Market consolidation

Initially in the USA it was thought that the car dealership numbers were declining, but that wasn’t the case, the number of dealerships weren’t declining, the number of owners were declining.

Transparency

The prices of all goods including cars are becoming super transparent, including cars. Data is becoming transparent to the car dealership before the consumer gets to it. On the internet in South Africa, prices are transparent, but in a form I call dumb data. Not easily comparable and no intelligent layer giving the car dealership or consumer the ability to analyse the data quickly. AutoTrader has a product called Fuzion that layers this intelligence for the car dealership. The next thing however is that consumers will get to see all prices in a transparent, intelligent form. I hope the car dealer gets far ahead on this in South Africa in order to ensure an efficient automotive economy.

Automotive Digital Retailing

Something I call the Widget Wars -- which is the enabler of digital retailing. We live in a world where the consumer attention has shifted online. Besides the consumer car shopping journey moving online. More and more of the transaction needs to move online. To get ahead as a car dealership, think about how you can take elements of your operational side of your business and move it onto your car dealership website.

The Attention Economy of car buying and selling

To understand the “Attention Economy” we first need to understand the definition of the term “economy” in the South African automotive industry. In simple terms, it is the intersection of demand and supply which then affects price. So when demand rises, & supply falls prices rise and when demand falls & supply rises, price falls. The thing is, the internet is driving this economy to move quicker than it ever has. Because of convenience and transparency.