How is the in-store retail customer experience evolving?
American retailers appear to be facing a crisis. Brands like JC Penney, American Apparel, and Sears are all closing stores and customers there...
Lately, I’ve been reading about the different ways in which the omni-channel approach is changing the market for cars and other automobiles. Traditionally, buying a new car meant a visit to various dealers to compare models and haggle over the price of a sunroof. This is changing fast.
I already knew that changes were coming, because I have felt a dramatic difference in the way that I personally approach a car purchase. It is possible to do all your research online, comparing models and determining what you want, before ever going to a dealer. The last time I looked for a car it almost felt like I could walk into the dealer and just ask for the car immediately, because there was no more selling required – I had all the information I needed to make the purchase.
New services are augmenting the process; in particular, there is a service called Amazon Vehicles in the USA. It’s no surprise that Amazon is getting into the car business, but it does show how far we have moved from the days of visiting multiple dealers.
The Amazon service allows instant comparisons of vehicles, reviews are available, and you can even ask current owners questions about their car. If you are interested in a particular model, Amazon can arrange to deliver one direct to your home for a test drive.
These developments are to be expected – people are getting smarter and more demanding. The changes in the auto industry also follow the omni-channel guidelines that I have often talked about in the past: make the customer experience great, no matter how the customer approaches you.
With fantastic online sales options becoming available, the real challenge for the car brands will soon be how to improve the experience when customers take time to visit the dealer. Car dealers are not generally thought of as customer-centric so that might be a challenge – however, it is one that needs to be addressed if the industry is to start offering a truly great omni-channel experience.
What do you think of these opportunities to redefine how cars are sold? Leave a comment below, or get in touch with me on LinkedIn.