DSES Highlights: Using Mobile Data and Technology to Make the Sales and Service Connection

  • Question: What’s the technology breakthrough having the most significant impact on the way vehicles are bought and sold?
  • Answer: Is “All of the Above” an acceptable answer?

There have been many advances in technology that have changed the work of automotive retail. It’s fair to claim, in fact, that the application of technology into the sales and service workflow is an ongoing evolution, one that likely will always be in a state of progress. But the one thing that has arguably ushered in the single greatest shift is mobility. That’s mobility, as in mobile devices – like smartphones and tablets – and the things we use them for. They have quickly become almost as much a part of the showroom landscape as the cars themselves. Indeed, at DSES, there was much talk about how mobile technology creates connection points on the lot between sales staff and buyer. One session stood out, however, because it went deeper into the data and merged typical dealership activity with the data insights and behaviors of today’s car shoppers and service customers. Hosted by Ben Anderson, CEO of AutoMotion and Thomas Gage, a Senior Director at Cox Automotive, the two took the audience step-by-step through the traditional and typically long and laborious sales experience – then they reconstructed the process with the help of data attribution, sourced from a mobile app and accessed through in-store technology such as beacons.  Among other things, the session focused on two potential areas of opportunity:

Data attribution and the connected car

The combination of technology that sits on your smartphone (Bluetooth), along with service and maintenance sensors (OBD II) is creating an opportunity to build proactive service marketing with customers. Today there are even Bluetooth-powered apps that connect to in-car maintenance sensors and provide a continual stream of content about performance, emissions, and more. As cars become more connected, owners will expect that dealerships to access this data in real-time, provide outreach, find solutions and handle service at higher rates of efficiency.  

Shopper location data and relevant content communications

Imagine being able to build an attribution model based on real-time location and activity data. Now think about how that would help create the right kind of first impression with a car shopper, and how that level of insight could drive the entire experience by empowering customers within a dealer-controlled environment. From the moment a shopper walks onto the lot, beacon technology and geofencing can help shape a customer profile, and push relevant content that enhances the total experience. It could, perhaps, create a custom journey for the customer from walk-up to F&I.

Challenges and opportunities

Questions abound, however. The need for a customer to install an app is one hurdle, though with the right blend of marketing savvy it can be overcome. Privacy laws and actions are a complication, however, and shortcomings to beacon technology (repeated content pushes) might create a less than perfect experience. And there’s the simple fact that customers, tired of too many notifications hitting their home screen, just turn them off. The bottom line is that no matter how advanced the technology, it simply must do one thing consistently and relentlessly: attract customers by empowering them within a dealer-controlled environment. 

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