Retail Anywhere - Sales - Selling Vehicles No Matter Where Customers Are

Hello, everyone, I'm Erin Peters, presentation specialist at Reynolds and Reynolds.

We've all seen digital retailing evolve, especially in sales the last few years as consumers have been pushing for more robust experiences in a digital format. Specifically, with all the talk about online car sales, dealers find themselves in a new environment accompanied by new challenges. So today, we're breaking this down and sharing how you can achieve a more streamlined and profitable online car sale. Let's start with a little history and how we got where we are today.

We all know that consumers are visiting less and less dealerships before making a purchase. They continue to do their research outside of the four walls of the dealership… online. The progression and volume of information is intense, from inventory to pricing to reviews to rebates to dealer fees. The amount of information available to consumers is unreal. It's continuing to grow into the largest part of the decision making process and who they end up buying from.

As more information has been part of the online research process, it's had a negative impact on profit margins. This is because consumers are going with the best well-rounded deal. Loyalty is often no longer a factor. They simply want to go with the dealer who's able to meet their expectations.

Fast forward to when the pandemic arrived. Consumers went from doing their research online to running a completely online car sale. No longer did they want to step foot in a dealership, so dealers were forced to identify an online car shopping process that had little face-to-face interaction. The market turned quickly. It was seemingly overnight that dealers had to respond to customer expectations.

Not only that, dealers still had to deal with OEM requirements. And to make it even more challenging, some dealers have to manage multiple brands. They're running against the clock, trying to meet customer expectations while trying to work with what their OEM is giving them. Dealers did whatever they could just to make an online retailing approach work, even if that meant inconsistencies and a lot of extra work for the sales team.

That's where we started to see dealers looking at it as individual steps and not an overarching process. For example, dealers needed in online retailing tool for consumers to start to build their deal. So they found a vendor for that. They needed an online negotiation tool. So they found a vendor for that. They found themselves with different tools from different vendors, all while trying to meet several different OEM requirements. In the end, they find that nothing is talking to one another. Processes are fractured and the buying experience is clunky, and dealers are forced to turn over even more of the buying process to the customer. They're losing on both sides of the coin, the customer experience and dealership profitability and efficiency.

One way I like to put this is comparing it to a puzzle. Dealers are essentially trying to piece together this online sales puzzle using pieces from three or four different puzzles. Now, I don't know about you, but that approach working on multiple puzzles creates more headaches than there were to start with. Dealers are trying to connect something that simply cannot connect. Let me provide an example.

Say you have company A for your DMS, company B for your CRM company, C for your website company, D for the digital retailing plug-in, and company E for negotiating. That's a lot of disparate pieces to manage that don't inherently work together. So if a lead comes in from your website, you first have to locate the customer in the CRM. But the customer information submitted online doesn't always match what's in your CRM. So the salespeople update the CRM. But when the customer moves to negotiation and F&I, the customer information doesn't follow. So the information is keyed and then they find that the payment information from the online tool doesn't match the DMS deal information. So it's updated again. And now the customer is upset because their payment is actually more.

There are consequences to this. There could be more to it. The same inaccuracies in duplicate work could be said about vehicle specs, purchasing terms and even rates and rebates. The end result is a lot of data rekeying, manual entry, duplicate work, inaccurate information, lengthened processes and frustrating experiences for both the consumer and the dealership employee. But most importantly, this means that your profitability is at risk.

So what can you do to combat these challenges? Dealers need what we call a Retail Anywhere approach. It allows salespeople to sell a vehicle to a customer no matter where that customer is, while still maintaining control and profitability of the sale, accuracy of the transaction, and efficiency of employees. It takes the traditional in-store selling environment and blends it with the current online selling environment to form a Retail Anywhere approach in sales. But the challenge is making sure that this process is consistent and seamless from point A to point B for both the customer and the employees.

The first part of this is understanding that you can't simply hand the reins over to the customer. You can't let them purchase a vehicle in a completely online environment without having some hand in the transaction, your salespeople are salespeople for a reason. They understand the wants and needs probably better than the customer themselves. So it's important that they are hands-on with the customer and helping guide them down the purchase path. Think about it. How many times does a customer leave the dealership with the exact car that they came in to buy? There are a million reasons, but if they are in the right car, the deal falls apart and that's where you start to risk profitability if you take a completely hands off approach. There's no one there to guide the customer down the purchase path.

The second part of this is accuracy. The moment the transaction translates from online to in-store, every piece of information, every number has to be one hundred percent accurate. They all have to match.

The last part of this is efficiency. The Retail Anywhere approach uses a single system, so manual labor and exhaustive process are eliminated and efficiency is improved. The single system allows for a seamless process which enables information to be accessible, accurate and automatic. In turn, this single system approach helps dealers to speed up the buying process and secure profit opportunities.

At the end of the day, Retail Anywhere approach in sales, or any department, is about the dealership. For years, it's been conditioned into everyone's mind that customer experience is always the top priority. But where this mindset falls short is how do you make sure that the dealership also wins? We want our dealership partners to be as profitable as they can be. That's what the Retail Anywhere approach offers. It allows dealers to serve customers and truly sell to them anywhere without sacrificing what's really important to them. Focusing on the success of the dealership is what makes Retail Anywhere so valuable.

Thanks for watching. Visit for more information. Have a great day.