Single-channel. Multi-channel. Cross-channel. Omni-channel. Are you running a cable TV station or a dealership? You almost need a station guide to keep them all straight, especially with new channels and buzzwords constantly cropping up.
Frost & Sullivan predicts that 50% to 60% of leads for vehicle sales will come from digital sources by 2016, up from 15% in 2014. Digital sources include leads from your website, your OEM’s website, third-party sites, social media, mobile, and the list goes on. In other words, your channels.
By 2022, that number is expected to surpass 80%; completely reorienting how business is generated in less than a decade. If the evolution toward digital turns out to be as widespread as expected (and at least directionally, it almost certainly will), think about how it will continue to impact your marketing budget, as well as how it will change your sales approach and customer interactions.
A cross-channel approach assumes that a consumer will primarily stick to one or two channels throughout the sales process. Information can be shared between channels, but they are managed separately and the flow of information is probably neither real time nor complete. This is largely the reality of today. It works, but is imperfect for you and your customers.
But what about the future? As a wise person has said, the future has many beginnings, many middles, and many ends. And that future is omni-channel.
An omni-channel approach assumes that consumers want complete flexibility to seamlessly move across and in and out of channels at will. They want to be channel surfers, and see multiple channels at the same time. They want to map out their own customer journeys.
While they make these moves across channels along their journeys, they expect there to be no fidelity lost in the data provided, and for it to be instantly available wherever they go. As mentioned earlier, these moves will be increasingly digital, and more specifically, done using mobile.
The initial process could start on a third-party site with the customer doing research on a laptop, then move to a smartphone for dealer and vehicle selection, and finally transition to the customer’s tablet for finance. At the dealership, the sales process could be picked back up on the salesperson’s tablet for desking, and handed to F&I for financing.
Stips might come after, and be loaded to a secure area on the dealer’s site by the consumer once he or she gets home. The deal could close with remote delivery, and final document signing could occur back on a tablet. Or the story could play out in hundreds of other ways.
Management strategy and discipline are what matter most with an omni-channel approach. The strategy is to see and embrace this world of channel surfers as an opportunity. The discipline is to make the channels they choose work in harmony for them.
Originally appeared in November issue of Dealer Marketing Magazine
The RouteOne system provides the products, services and tools that allows your dealership to support an omni-channel approach, giving your car buyers the flexibility they need! To learn more about the RouteOne system, and how it can support your omni-channel needs, please contact your RouteOne Business Development Manager, or RouteOne Support at 866.768.8301.