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astutemetrics at 

Automotive Management LIVE 2018

by mike smith 
monday 14 December 2018

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At astutemetrics, we have well over 70 years’ worth of combined experience and knowledge that our clients can tap into at any time.  We are always looking at new trends, industry technologies, new ways of thinking and more, in order to keep developing our knowledge. It is part of what makes us forward thinking and innovative.


Just over 4 weeks ago, we attended Automotive Management LIVE 2018 to see what was new in the industry, expand our knowledge and enhance our expertise even further.


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Open talks on challenges and solutions facing dealerships

One of the first things we noticed was the overwhelming use and reliance of customised multi-purpose platforms along with digital products. That is not a bad thing as we know that there is a dynamic shift to digital first, especially when you consider the very nature of how metrics and tracking operates and works


Although we live in a digital-first era, there is still something to be said for traditional marketing methods and the link between the two hasn’t broken yet. If anything, it is still very much the start of the customer journey and still serves product/service advertising (we have loads of show leaflets to prove it!). But it was certainly interesting from our perspective to see the overwhelming amount of reliance on digital over traditional in action on the show floor. 


Speaking of digital, there were plenty of new revolutionary products, technologies as well as a new wave of thoughts and philosophical thinking. A-synchronous messaging and direct marketing for individual customers seemed to certainly be a big deal. We still have plenty of questions about the management and resources required to operate those solutions and platforms. If everyone can directly market in a messaging platform, how does that stop a customer being overwhelmed with direct marketing messages? This is something we definitely intend to keep an eye on as things move forward.

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Apple Business Chat
Potential for a direct link to 1.1 billion customers

Another interesting thing for us was the debunking of certain myths around licences, registrations and what that currently means to the industry. Earlier in the year, mainstream media reported on the falling numbers of new registrations and the sales of new cars slowing.  ICDP presented some of their ongoing research during the show including some interesting counterpoints. For example, the number of car license holders for young drivers and registrations has dropped which is seen to have an extremely negative effect on sales. In fact, it’s actually a case where sales have increased within the mid 20’s age range highlighting the fact that drivers are now older. This is more than at any time in the past. What that means is that while one declines, the other increases – avoiding the negative downturn and changing perspectives on where to aim for potential customers. 


Car ownership seems to be developing with modern times. There does seem to be an increasing interest in supplying vehicles under a part ownership rental service where dealerships become service providers. Think of a slightly more advanced version of broadband internet and Netflix relationship but for cars. While there is interest and experimentation in this area, it might be a while before it takes off but the signals are already there in making this a full-fledged offering. 


Another theme highlighted at the show, was the on-going importance of technology in the customer journey. Given that everyone has a smartphone these days, they are intrinsically connected with their purchase long afterwards. Think of it this way, you like a car manufacturer so you follow their social media. You then purchase the car from the dealer and begin to follow them as well. Any faults or problems you contact the dealer directly through multiple channels. You then might start communicating with others, want to be alerted to offers and new models etc. 


This continues long after the discovery phase and purchasing phase of a customer’s journey. The customer begins to see the dealer differently in that they are not just someone they purchase a car from, but they are a service provider and not in the traditional sense.

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Visualisation of the continuous customer journey with messaging apps now involved

This puts a lot of pressure on dealers to be involved with everything offline and online and with that comes increases in costs and resources required to manage and maintain. So far, there isn’t a universal solution to this issue, at least not as of yet. Some ideas such as network restructuring, data sharing, omnichannel integration have been highlighted as processes that should be under consideration. But especially as there isn’t a replacement for franchise dealership models, instead it seems the best way is to evolve the existing model. 


Even using and implementing dedicated technologies such as VR showrooms and walkthroughs and AR technology doesn’t seem to resolve the issues and areas of concerns. These include thing such as increasing costs in maintenance of dealerships, getting people through the doors and the reliance of aftersales service to justify costs. Where some solutions might be found is in the close collaboration between dealers and OEM’s working together and implementing mixed formats. This includes supplying cars on demand through a centralised OEM with dealerships serving as a much smaller outlet. This would include more of a focus on becoming a one-stop pickup point with technology serving as a way to minimise necessary stock being held on site and enabling the ability to downscale to smaller, more cost-effective properties.  Things like VR on site would enable someone to take a test drive without having to have the vehicle on site and could be optimised so that different vehicle types are easily changed within the stand set-up.

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VR car model interaction

So, there is definitely a few mixed formats and collaborative management solutions that could be implemented. Ultimately, it’s complicated and complex, so it will be a while before we see any front-running solutions to ensure dealerships are able to keep up, manage costs and customer expectation, all while preparing for the future.


Automotive Management LIVE 2018 certainly opened our eyes to some of the more complicated upcoming challenges within the industry and to the current work in progress solutions. For us, it served as a reminded us why services like those from astutemetrics are still relevant and important. Until things are fully automated, tracking will still be involved in marketing decision making processes. There may be an overwhelming number of choices of new technologies and methodologies for dealers to potentially move forward with but it will more than likely be difficult to decide on the best solutions awhile before replacing tried and tested methods. 


Well, tracking and metrics could be the key deciding factor in whether to explore one solution or the other.  For us and our clients going forward, it’s reassuring to know that human analysis combined with tracking data and metrics is still very much the optimal solution for the time being. Through our services, we can lay the foundations for you before rushing into imperfect and non-universal solutions.

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