Digital Retailing Isn’t Part of the Future; It’s a Present Reality

By Desiree Homer

Creating a digital experience for the car buyer isn’t enough, says Ron Frey. The industry consultant has spent more than 30 years in the automotive sector, including top leadership roles with AutoNation and TrueCar. According to his experience, Frey says there’s something missing from the retailers’ strategies for developing digital interactions. It goes beyond just being online. That was the first step, years ago, when digital car-buying was an idea for the future. It’s now a reality, meaning it’s time for dealers to take their digital solutions to a different level.

More Than Buying a Car Online

Ron Frey tells the Automotive News Retail Forum that dealers must learn to stop “thinking about it as digital retail.” Instead, he suggests retailers consider it “modern retail.” His sentiment is that modern retail isn’t about how buyers start and finish the process online. The journey can be so much more. Providing click options is one thing. Offering digital methods to solutions or better engagement will create the consumer experience.

How Digital Tools Can Benefit Your Dealership

There are digital tools available that dealerships either aren’t using or aren’t leveraging to the fullest potential. Software or management program upgrades are only useful if every embedded benefit is working for your dealership. Frey suggests first identifying what problems you are looking to solve. Then determine what data do you need in order to create a solution. Digital tools can help you gather your precise metrics, ultimately, as an assist in solving your problem.

Using Digital Solutions to Enhance Customer Service

Frey says in his experience; he notices something missing from dealership strategies. There is a primary need and conviction for dealers to use digital development efforts as a method for serving customers. One of the best ways to create a robust customer service platform is to develop a consistent approach to engagement. Staying consistent for them means buttoning up your dealership processes. And, that is where technology comes in. Dealers should be precise about selecting only those technologies that make sense for their dealership, as opposed to a one-size fits all digital upgrade. Instead of trying to tackle a start to finish digital option, focus on those tech tools that address specific goals, like pricing strategies or used-car inventory management. The result will be that much-needed consistency in customer service engagement.

Instead of trying to implement digital solutions for the future, be selective about those technologies that streamline your process or operations today. Digital retailing is today’s reality, and the savviest dealers recognize it. You don’t want to go online to book a dentist appointment for a toothache, only to arrive and realize they don’t have the tools to fix your tooth. The same applies to car buyers. They may want to shop and buy online, but it’s the manner in which you engage them at the dealership level that will determine your level of success. Being able to solve your operational challenges with digital solutions will allow you to create those lasting and consistent experiences that today’s digital retail consumers really want.