How Technology Is Changing The Car Buying Process

Consumers experience hi-tech in almost every shopping experience, from targeted sales emails to custom apps on their smartphones. It stands to reason that they would expect a technologically advanced Dealership that brings convenience to the buying and service process. Unfortunately, Dealers struggle just to keep their internal systems current and therefore often relegate their customer facing technology to an afterthought. Savvy Dealers may gain a competitive advantage by carefully selecting technologies to enhance customer interaction and their overall experience when in the store.

The website is often a first touch for prospective customers. In a recent study by The Interactive Advertising Bureau, 86% of automobile shoppers search online when shopping. Consumers are researching and in many cases making a purchase decision via the Dealership website. Real-time video can engage customers more directly into the buying process.

Consumers are accustomed to electronic presentation and signature of consumer agreements. Shoppers expect the ease and convenience of electronic presentation without all the paper. Reevaluating DMS Electronic contracting offerings should be a top priority for Dealers entering into a new DMS agreement or study. E-Contract technology has evolved significantly in recent years from a basic signature capture device into a full contracting system. Savings on costly paper forms printing and storage of large volumes of paper copies may offset the costs of the system.

Imagine an interested buyer interacting directly with a sales representative for an “interactive walk-around” of the car over video. Cisco’s Webex Collaboration technology can be leveraged via the Dealer’s website and Sales would use tablets to bring the virtual walk around to consumers. The Dealer would need to ensure that there is strong wireless Internet throughout the entire property, training for staff and compatible tablets.

Many customers trek to the store for sales or service expecting an outstanding Internet surfing experience while they are waiting for their vehicle. The explosion of tablets, laptops and phone devices for both customers and internal Dealership staff taxes most Dealership wireless and Internet connections. Dealers often install residential grade customer wireless, which is expected to accommodate dozens of connected devices.  Because wireless is a shared bandwidth technology, the more devices that attach, the less bandwidth is available to everyone. This compounding bandwidth hit is experienced in all areas of the Dealer’s operations, severely slowing everything down. To make matters worse, the wireless is often plugged directly into the secure corporate network, creating a serious security breach.

Dealers should seriously consider a professional wireless survey and commercial system to service both their internal and customer facing needs. The study will determine the current wireless coverage, signal strength and capacity of the system. A properly conducted survey will ensure optimal density and placement of new wireless access point nodes. The increased capacity will provide a pleasant customer experience and the needed sales and service bandwidth for internal use in one investment, creating a better sales and service experience for both the customer and Dealership staff.

The connected customer is here to stay. The Dealer’s bottom line revenue will continue to be protected through smart investment in customer facing technology’s that enhance the buying and service experiences.

About the author

Erik Nachbahr is President and Founder of Helion Automotive Technologies. Helion is the nation’s leader in Automotive Technology management and works with over 650 Dealerships nationwide to ensure best practices for productivity, security and compliance.