Posted on: 26 Jun 2023 | Post By: CitNOW Group
We organised a Q&A with Alistair Horsburgh, Chief Strategy Officer at CitNOW Group, to gain insight into how digital trends are changing
Here are the key topics we discussed:
- From a CitNOW Group perspective, what are your key take-aways from 2022?
- What video trends did you see in 2022?
- From the back-office side of the showroom, what key trends did Dealerweb see?
- What trends have you seen so far this year?
- What do you think will be the standout digital trend/feature in 2023?
- What is the most important digital asset for helping dealers engage and attract customers?
- What advice would you give to dealers on keeping pace with digital developments?
From a CitNOW Group perspective, what are your key take-aways from 2022?
CitNOW Group grew significantly in 2022 – organically and through the strategic acquisitions of Auto Imaging, AutoSLM, dealerdesk, REALtime Communications, and Web1on1. In 2022 we integrated CitNOW Sales and Dealerweb Showroom and CitNOW Web with Dealerweb React, strengthening both sales and aftersales processes for retailers. We are continuously investigating integrations between our growing portfolio of businesses to help us achieve the Group aim of making retailers’ lives easier. Our integrations enable retailers to broaden the scope and quality of assets deployed via their e-commerce platforms, and to enrich digital interactions.
In 2022 we published our report ‘Uniting Customers and Retailers Through Technology’. Within this we identified some key areas of transformation in the automotive industry, with technology being the key enabler to offer the best possible customer experience. We know that customers want a seamless online to offline experience which also needs to be seamless for the retailer.
We believe omni-channel should be defined by the customer enabling them to decide how much of the process is conducted online or offline. To provide this, the retailer must have the right technology and processes in place to facilitate personalised customer journeys. The best way to improve the customer sales and aftersales experience is to join the dots and deploy multiple interconnected solutions within the automotive ecosystem. That is the philosophy at the heart of CitNOW Group’s solutions, helping to drive efficiency and seamlessly transform every customer moment.
What video trends did you see in 2022?
From our CitNOW solution we saw the demand for video as part of the sales and aftersales journey continue to grow in popularity. We reported a new record production total in 2022, with over 12.1 million videos created.
New industry and consumer data commissioned by CitNOW Group identified the extent to which video solutions have become a critical conversion tool for retailers in both sales and aftersales. The survey revealed that 43% of motorists are more likely to buy a vehicle if they received a personalised video of it. This demand also continues into aftersales, with 41% of motorists saying they would be more likely to approve routine service and repair work if they were sent a video of the work required
From the back-office side of the showroom, what key trends did Dealerweb see?
With an uncertain economic environment, savvy retailers are adapting their pricing and sales strategies in order to grow conversions and retention in sales and aftersales. Retailers should focus on going back to basics, ensuring they are getting the simplest parts of the sales journey right. Dealerweb Showroom enables retailers to support engagement between sales executives and customers, providing a more seamless experience.
What trends have you seen so far this year?
For 2023, a new area of focus for CitNOW Group is supporting the move to an agency model in motor retail. We have been working in partnership with Salesforce for the past 18-months in anticipation of how pivotal their CRM solutions can be in supporting the transition to an agency model. We were the first UK automotive retail supplier to be featured in the Salesforce AppExchange with integration of CitNOW Sales and CitNOW Workshop into Salesforce Automotive Cloud, Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud helping us to create better customer experiences, enabled by video whilst making it easy for the retailer to use multiple digital solutions from one hub.
We see the digital journey and the customer experience being at the forefront of retailers’ minds.
What do you think will be the standout digital trend/feature in 2023?
Digital technology within automotive will be moving towards the agency model. At CitNOW Group, we are considering all needs from the OEM to the retailer and the customer within our solutions. We’ll continue to develop our platforms and integration partnerships to assist all parties. We want to unite one and all and will develop technology to make retailers’ lives easier to in turn enable a good customer experience.
What is the most important digital asset for helping dealers engage and attract customers?
Photo and video remain essential in creating and maintaining a robust relationship between sales executives and customers. With strong consumer demand for high-quality video and imagery as part of the vehicle sales process, retailers should pay attention to the quality and consistency of their imagery used on e-commerce sites and utilise a tool like Auto Imaging. CitNOW Group analysed used car listings on the websites of the UK’s top 100 franchised dealers (by turnover), and identified that just 14% currently provide 360-degree exterior and interior imaging – a missed opportunity. Only 9% currently offer a ‘hot spot’ functionality, which highlights vehicle features within images, enabling customers to have an in-depth view of the car similar to if they saw it in person.
What advice would you give to dealers on keeping pace with digital developments?
Retailers should make sure staff are using digital tools in the right way, and call on the relevant suppliers for training where required. We’d also advise retailers to consider how and when they use the digital tools available, throughout the vehicle purchasing journey, as each customer will have individual requirements and preferences.
Our recent industry research found that the majority of retailers polled (68%) said that their most valued digital tool is the dealer management system. Lead management systems were also one of the most valued with 58% of retailers favouring this digital tool. Our survey also found that the biggest challenge dealers feel they face is providing a seamless customer experience. Retailers should be collaborative with suppliers so the suppliers can take time to understand the business and form a partnership approach – the ethos of our business. Ultimately, the journey should adapt to the customer, not the other way around.
From a business perspective, data is key. A dedicated Automotive Business Intelligence (BI) solution like REALInsights can enable faster decisions, better planning and delivers a single view of data for automotive retailers. Productivity, sales, profit and customer experience can all be enhanced through effective insights and analysis.
What to find out more?
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