Jim Johnson takes a deep five into the next waves of innovation within digital retailing
Change can be painful, but it can also be productive. When people first identify major changes occurring around them, they often look toward the past for inspiration on how to navigate their new normal. In the case of the automotive industry, its future may look more like the retail industry of the present than anything resembling its past.
Growth and evolution of digital retail
There are several major changes happening simultaneously within the automotive landscape, all of them with some form of digital transformation in common. The expansion of digital retail represented the first major shift in how people buy vehicles, as moving stages of the shopping journey online was accelerated by necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s now well established that digital retail programmes result in a more positive experience for shoppers, mostly attributed to streamlining paperwork and saving time at the dealership. To this point, Cox Automotive noted that ‘mostly digital’ shoppers (heavy users of digital retailing tools) were more content with the overall purchase experience and time spent transacting than ‘light’ digital shoppers.
Meeting shoppers where they are increasingly demands a digital video strategy that complements the shopping journey
The next waves of innovation within digital retailing are now appearing in the form of virtual showrooms and end-to-end eCommerce. While companies such as Carvana and Vroom have made headlines selling used cars entirely online, several OEMs have followed in Tesla’s footsteps in announcing that they will also be moving toward an eCommerce, direct to consumer-based approach, mostly spurred by the burgeoning electric vehicle sector. In this scenario, dealerships would focus on test drives, online order fulfilment, servicing, and customer experience, all of which will be facilitated in a hybrid of physical and virtual customer interaction. With up to 25% of global auto sales expected to occur fully online by 2025, this is where personalised marketing through digital video can help dealerships and automakers transition into this new phase of digital retailing.
Marketing strategies to meet the moment
In the short term, dealerships will want to focus on building customer loyalty in anticipation of the shift from primarily selling cars to delivering a holistic experience around fulfilment and ownership. To execute on this, all aspects of the dealership experience need to be communicated to potential customers, not just the latest vehicle offers. Since buying a vehicle is often a family or group decision, reaching shoppers on the largest screen in the house with Connected TV (CTV) targeted to households within a specific radius around the dealership is a great way to showcase the unique attributes of a dealership using video. Messaging could include service and vehicle expertise, local business and community partnerships, or customer testimonials to build trust. Follow up messaging on any personal devices within the household could be more specific to offers, inventory, or digital retailing tools to facilitate purchases.
Auto brands at the national level can also leverage a similar strategy for their fledgling e-Commerce programmes and help connect the dots for shoppers and dealers alike. CTV messaging could feature a preview of the virtual showroom experience for a new model launch, while subsequent messaging across the personal devices in the household could feature a call to action to schedule a virtual tour or test drive with a local dealer, or a guided ‘path to purchase’ highlighting all the steps to buying a car 100% online once the eCommerce technology has been enabled.
There are several major changes happening simultaneously within the automotive landscape, all of them with some form of digital transformation in common
The exciting future
Change is inevitable, and it’s arrived for the automotive industry. Meeting shoppers where they are increasingly demands a digital video strategy that complements the shopping journey. Household targeting featuring the combination of CTV and desktop and mobile video provides the high impact needed to move your brand and dealership to the top of the consideration set, and the opportunities for shopper engagement needed to execute on the exciting future of automotive eCommerce and digital retail.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Jim Johnson is Vice President of Account Planning & Lead of Industry Solutions – Automotive at VDX.tv