How can a car dealer meet the requirements of new technologies and customer expectations?

As our blog series “The Retail Offensive” has shown, new mobility concepts and distribution channels require a new positioning from car dealers. Technological innovations change the sales and service process considerably. In most cases, the dealer is called upon to implement key initiatives quickly, and sustainably build up the corresponding digital competence within the dealership. However, the digital maturity of German car dealers is currently only 26.4 percent [1].

As Alan Mattapour describes in part 7 of our blog series, targeted retail enablement is one of the four transformation dimensions that will enable faster, and more sustainable implementation of digital solutions. An agile rollout process, structured change management, and governance systems for sustainable manifestation are the prerequisites to successfully commercialize key initiatives and meet customer needs.

Why are the rollout and enabling processes of key initiatives at the dealer often slow and inefficient?

The definition of new initiatives for retail is largely based on the needs of the manufacturers, which are not necessarily aligned with those of the dealers. Communication is not transparent within the OEM´s internal coordination, and as a result there is an obvious loss of information.

It is not uncommon that information for transformation processes are incomplete, inconsistent and delayed. The process of transmission takes place in several stages; from the OEM to the markets, and then to the dealer. Thereafter, knowledge is transferred to external trainers through face-to-face training sessions, which can be extremely time-consuming and costly. This is enhanced by the cumbersome e-learnings, overloaded databases and inconsistent handouts. The timing of the training sessions is not often aligned with the dealers, and results in disruption with daily business. As well as this, the method of training is not always relevant or updated.

Even if the basic idea of ​​an initiative is successfully communicated, its continuous implementation and execution often fails. After the initial rollout, points of contact for the dealer are normally not clearly defined. Instead they are based on historically grown networks. These do not follow structured or traceable support processes. Further hurdles for effective retail enablement include; lack of resources, low willingness in management, and a lack of understanding and ignorance of change by the dealers. In addition, there is also the challenge of high fluctuation and attrition rate within the retail sector, especially among young employees. The knowledge often imparted is not retained within the company, which means the collective understanding of new and digital topics aren’t fully developed.

 “To give the customer confidence, I would need a knowledge edge. But I do not have it, on the contrary!” [2]

Experts in the field of automotive sales make clear demands that add value for retailers, manufacturers and customers. A concise approach for retail enablement, that will align to all stakeholder requirements, must be agile, digital and flexible in its methodology and content.

The requirements for retail enablement from a retail perspective:

  1. A mobile, flexible and web-based form of knowledge transfer, that is independent of working hours and appointments.
  2. New digital learning formats that facilitate user-friendly, gamified learning.
  3. An opportunity for social, collaborative learning and knowledge sharing.
  4. The method and frequency of enablement must be adaptable, continuous and up-to-date.
  5. The enablement must be costs-benefits driven, so that training aligns to any missed sales opportunities.

The target image of retail enablement moves away from punctual physical training to an integrated learning platform

 The approach of a learning platform can answer the above-mentioned requirements. It can simplify and link communication channels, whilst sustainably ensuring the quality of the enablement. Under the control of the manufacturer, who is responsible for topicality, content, roles and performance tracking; a digital platform can integrate NPCs, importers, trainers, dealers and their employees.

Learning modules can be completed in two dimensions, individually and collectively. A wide range of interactive elements in a virtual community can be chosen: video-based learning, digital posters, educational games, chat features, feedback sessions and user-generated content such as blogs and discussion forums. By providing a chronological and thematic overview of offered modules and dates, users can flexibly compile and plan modules.

In a continuous dialogue, dealers can communicate their needs on specific topics and exchange ideas in the international community platform. Among other companies, “Google Digital Leaders” and “Telekom Business School Sales” have already successfully converted their enablement models and taken advantage of an interactive learning platform.

Key features for the integrated platform:

  • Flexible: Learning content is agile, on-demand, at any time and any place, free and independent, irrespective of dates and working hours.
  • Social: The community offers interactive learning, comparison, recognition and exchange.
  • Playful: Intuitive handling and appealing design, awards for achieved goals and gamification increase motivation and continuity.
  • Personalized: Building blocks are arranged individually according to the level and ambition of the user.

Beyond a shared platform there are other factors that can contribute to the targeted enablement of digital solutions. The successful digital development of the dealer will determine the future role of automotive retail. It will be able to enrich rather than threaten the ways of working of the dealer.

Feedback features and a shared community can drive knowledge management and development, to ensure the best customer experience. For these reasons, the future of automotive retail stands as follows; the advantages of new business models such as shared mobility or online sales can be jointly developed, communicated and monetized with the successful deployment of digital solutions. Digital solutions must; however, be sustained by both the people and their processes.

[1] Automobilwoche (2017): „Die Reifeprüfung“ in Automobilwoche Spezial in Automobilwoche 21 from 10/02/2017

[2] German trade expert in conversation with Capgemini Consulting

Our Author

Esther Huyer supports private and public organizations in their digital transformation. Implementing innovative technologies, she facilitates knowledge management and stakeholder communication to enable a sound basis for joint decision making in the EU and globally. In collaboration with her colleagues and clients, she analyzes and prototypes strategies towards Open Data, Data Re-use, and Digital Customer Experience to institutionalize solutions for future mobility, EU Policy Making, and Governance 3.0.