Find a market niche and dominate it, strategic planning executive advises.
Car dealers need a map to get around today’s digital world.
So says Paul Whitworth, vice president-business operations for Cox Automotive Software Group. He is responsible for software strategic planning and operations oversight for six Cox Automotive brands: Dealer.com, Dealertrack, HomeNet Automotive, vAuto, VinSolutions and Xtime.
At the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention this year, he led a workshop entitled, “Create a Blueprint: Thrive in Today’s Digital World.” He speaks withWardsAuto about it. Here’s an edited version of the Q&A.
WardsAuto: What kind of blueprint do dealers need?
Whitworth: My presentation focused on six steps. Find a niche in their market they can dominate. Source and stock the right vehicles at the right price. Be the most effective digital marketer in their niche. Build a disciplined, adaptable sales process. Focus on retention and repurchase. Embrace technology as a source of competitive advantage.
WardsAuto: The 2016 WardsAuto e-Dealer 100 lists 287,170 sales in 2015 that originated from online leads handled by designated Internet personnel. This is a small fraction of annual car sales. How can dealers be convinced of the need to adopt these digital tools?
Whitworth: A small percentage of buyers currently want an end-to-end digital process. Virtually all consumers are going digital for at least part of the sales process.
Consumers all have a different level of comfort with what they want to do online versus in-store. Our data shows for example that while 95% of Millennials use the Internet for car shopping, 49% say they rely heavily on the sales person for information.
To succeed going forward, dealers need tools that integrate the online with the in-store experience. For instance: Make dealer websites more than just a browsing tool, integrate the CRM (customer-relationship management software system) into the website experience and integrate fixed-operations management software with dealer websites.
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