How to Set Up Your Car Dealership in the Cloud
The sales model in the automotive industry is undergoing tectonic changes. The majority of auto buyers now begin their purchasing journey on the Internet. In fact, over half of shoppers do not reach out to the dealership prior to their first visit. Instead, they spend 59 percent of their time researching online.
For dealerships this trend stands for several things:
- They need better insights into understanding the aspirations of walk-in shoppers.
- They need to get better at connecting with the shoppers at the digital stage of their journey.
- And they need to deliver prime and interactive experience during the dealership visits.
Failing to deliver extra value to the buyer places the dealer at risk of being eliminated from the sales chain.
How to Add More Value to Your Dealership with the Cloud
Cloud computing has transformed the way we obtain and deliver services. Your business systems and software can reside in an external environment — the cloud — enabling seamless information exchanges between your departments, and also between your dealerships in different locations.
The additional benefits of such a setup are as follows:
- Reduced IT infrastructure and maintenance costs.
- Greater flexibility for upgrading/downgrading cloud services on an as-needed basis.
- Reduced transition time for bringing in new technology when opening another dealership.
- Complete inventory picture and additional insights from OEMs, delivered in real-time to your managers.
- Faster deployment of new applications for in-house usage. New software no longer needs to be installed manually to every desktop. Instead, everyone receives instant access to it at once.
- Ability to develop and launch innovative digital products for your customers.
However, technological innovations often come with certain risks. There are multiple frameworks for adopting the cloud, as well as a lot of vendors offering different tools and services. New technology can both take you closer to the desired outcomes and clog your operations with additional hurdles. And it’s not the cloud itself to blame. Some new gen tools may be better suited for your organization, whereas others will drive a lower ROI due to gruesome adoption.
Before settling for a cloud service that promises to "fix all your business woes" at once, ask them some tough questions.
1. Is This Technology Easy-to-implement for my Dealership?
Because every dealership operates in a unique way, you may have legacy systems in place that will not integrate well with the newer technology. This means additional development costs or even retiring those good old “working horses.”
New GMs have an advantage here as they will be starting from a clean state. However, making some quick decisions can stagger your growth in the future. You can end up in an unfavorable vendor lock-in that leaves you little room for adding new integrations and additional services.
Takeaway: Make a list of specific use cases of the new cloud technology and look into the available integrations.
2. How Long Will it Take for Employees to Get Up to Speed with the New Cloud Systems?
Your new cloud tools should help, not hinder your employees work. Advanced dealer management systems (DMS) may seem to promise more lavish benefits, but how comfortable your staff will be with using them? If those come with poor support and no training tools, the costs of adoption will rise.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, a somewhat outdated solution can chase away your tech-savvy employees and undermine your customer experience.
As a middle ground, we advise looking into Microsoft Azure cloud offerings. In particular, consider:
- Cloud storage (e.g. Azure Blob Storage) for visuals to enhance your online inventory catalog (and reduce the costs of storing that data locally).
- Office 365 email and additional products to make your business information accessible whenever you are.
- Microsoft PowerApps and Azure SQL Database to launch new digital products for customers.
Takeaway: Opt for versatile tools and systems that can be adapted to your business needs and employees’ experience.
3. Does the New Tool Offer Me Real-time Access to Data?
Business transactions are now happening at an increased speed. Do your managers have the data they need at their fingertips when they are working outside the dealership? And how about your customers — do they have seamless access to the latest information from your business?
Nearly 71% of shoppers visit an automotive website or app during their research. Additionally, 63% of auto buyers engage in research online while at a dealership.
Source: Placed Mobile Device Use Study
To play up to this sales dynamics, car dealerships will need to establish new avenues for engaging with customers. Cloud computing can help you in several ways:
- Set up cloud-based Wi-Fi to delight customers with an extra amenity and encourage them to interact with your brand. For instance, add a splash page that will ask users to join you on Facebook to receive access to the network.
- Gain more information from the OEM. Most manufacturers already have established CRM systems hosting commercial data from their customers and other dealership. The cloud allows you to tap into that wealth of information and deliver more acute updates to your customers regarding parts ordering, maintenance, and model availability in another location. Your dealers will obtain 360-degree access to OEM data and service your customers better.
Takeaway: Real-time access to data is key to building a superior customer experience and improving your service levels.
Modernize Your Dealership
As a large fraction of a car buyer's journey now happens online, dealerships will need to take a more proactive stance on digitalization.
Cloud tools can boost your team’s productivity by making key data available anywhere, anytime. Your dealership can gain an edge by effectively managing multiple locations, ensuring top performance, and delighting users with the latest insights from the OEMs. Plus the cloud environment and tools often end up being more cost-effective than on-premises systems as they require less day-to-day housekeeping.
If you are ready to modernize your dealership and explore the cloud, schedule a free consult with our specialists today!
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