In the years to come, technology pundits will remember the COVID-19 pandemic as the tipping point for digital transformation across industries, including the automotive sector. After decades of relatively small change, automotive companies are completely reimagining how cars are bought and sold. To be sure, a few OEMs were already, cautiously, embarking on their digital transformation journeys before the pandemic, but the COVID-19 pandemic hastened technology adoption as brands faced new pressure to improve the digital customer experience through online purchasing, seamless delivery, and 24/7 service.
Automotive sales and marketing is now on the cusp of a digital revolution. To prepare for it, companies will need to explore digitalization at each step of the customer’s journey. Insights-driven brand management, digital lead share, dealer omnipresence, in-store digitalization, digital field force enablement, next-generation automotive retail formats, post-sales customer experience, next-gen CRM are some of the ways in which automotive teams could digitalize their traditional sales and marketing functions.
Of course, this won’t be a straightforward journey; most likely it will be executed in phases under an aggregator to digital marketplace to integrated platform framework and cross-sector companies from the technology, online retail, and auto manufacturing sectors will converge to address this opportunity, likely developing a new integrated digital platform, like an Amazon for automotive retail.
Convenience is key: Digitalization of the automotive sales & marketing value chain
From retail, CPG, and health and banking, to airlines, restaurants, hotels, and media, more and more industries are adopting digital commerce. Digital marketplaces are driving this trend by enabling businesses to explore new strategies like shifting to selling essential products, focusing on cross-border sales, investing in new marketing initiatives, and innovating their supply chains. But to be successful, what businesses really need to focus on is customer convenience and making it the focal point of all their decisions.
Traditionally, the automotive sales and marketing value chain — comprising research by customers, product selection, and final purchase — has involved offline channels like brick-and-mortar showrooms, in-house financing, in-person negotiation, and paperwork. But these offline processes are now undergoing rapid digital transformations, and businesses are likely to continue digitalizing processes going forward.