Digital Revolution Evolves Auto Industry
By Derrick de Vries, CEO TransUnion Auto Information Solutions
The digital revolution has swept a wave of change through how businesses and consumers take on daily activities. Life in many instances has been made easier with technology now facilitating improved ways of sourcing and accessing information. However, as with anything, this also introduces a few challenges such as a faster work pace, big data overflow and increased information management risks. These disruptions have certainly not bypassed the automotive industry.
The auto industry is certainly transitioning from a ‘brick and mortar’ environment to a more online orientated setup. According to TransUnion, the South African market showroom traffic is reducing as a result of customers doing their vehicle research online. This brings along a number of risks for the consumer and challenges for the industry especially within the private vehicle sale market. Consumers are accessing information via the web to make decisions and the auto industry will need to become cognisant of this online buying trend.
Dealerships are now required to become more competitive by changing their thinking, marketing and sales initiatives through the adoption of an increased level of online activity. The key factor to consider is how they engage and convert customers that are currently in an ‘online’ world of choice.
TransUnion 1Check – helping you drive performance
Mobility is a mega trend that can be described as disruptive technology and is providing unparalleled convenience and functionality for companies that are conducting business in a new era of innovation.
While dealers need to be cognisant of a change in customer interaction – from traditional dealership visits to online vehicle shopping – and adapt to target and engage prospective customers online, it is important to understand the risks presented by an online interaction. Customer identification and verification should be central to any engagement strategy to mitigate the risk of doing business with a customer who is not who they say they are.
Fraud and theft in the automotive industry is a significant challenge and TransUnion’s 1Check app assists dealers to reduce these risks. TransUnion’s extensive database of over 19 million consumer records coupled with the TransUnion Auto database - the largest database of vehicle manufacturers, financing and valuation records in South Africa – is at the heart of the app, where real-time information provides motor dealers with the ability to make instant, informed and less-risky decisions.
The app includes a number of features including ‘Test Drive’ which utilises TransUnion’s Fraud Prevention Model (FPM) to enable dealers to evaluate the level of risk associated with a potential customer prior to entering into a sales negotiation, or even before allowing a customer to take a vehicle on a test drive. ‘Quick Credit’ assists dealers to evaluate the credit standing of a consumer before entering into lengthy sales negotiations on a vehicle for which a consumer may, or may not, be able to obtain financing.
Additional features include a ‘Verification Report’ which delivers extensive manufacturer information, SAPS interest and datadot, mileage etc., ‘Valuations’ provides the latest trade and retail valuations for vehicles, ‘Stockloader’ enables dealers to easily upload and manage stock and ‘Accident Indicator’ to assess whether the vehicle has any accident history.
Many of these features were developed in response to requests from automotive dealers. TransUnion firmly believes that understanding their markets’ requirements is vital to delivering meaningful solutions whilst providing them in a format that leverages the latest technology platforms.
The potential behind the data
Although this change in consumer behaviour is evolving the way in which dealerships and independent dealers’ approach the market, this shift in behaviour offers an array of benefits to the industry with the most vital opportunity being presented in data availability. The data collected from these online sources provides access to the much needed information around customer behaviour. Dealerships are now able to harness this information to amend and adjust their sales and marketing strategies, further ensuring they are able to target the right customer with the right information. With this information at hand dealerships should pursue an integrated marketing approach that cuts across different channels and customer touch-points. It is now the manufacturer’s task to also close the gap between desire (advertising) and experience (test drive) in the sales process.
Interestingly, TransUnion have noted that although many consumers are researching online, they are still purchasing offline, at a dealership. Critical to closing the deal, dealerships will be required to facilitate a seamless transition from online to the physical dealership experience. Efficient customer engagement is arguably key to converting an online shopper to an offline purchaser and with TransUnion 1Check dealers can verify and identify the opportunity presented by the customer in a matter of seconds – a win-win for both customer and dealer.
The online trend is presenting the auto industry with both challenges and opportunities. This change has provided the industry with the much needed insights and data, and is also driving a faster online transition. This opens many new avenues and brings along new customers for dealerships, especially in these tough economic times when competitive advantage is vital. Making use of products, services and the right partners will ensure the auto industry is able to tackle the challenges they face and successfully take the step into the new online world.