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Cox Automotive COO Mark O’Neil to Automotive Industry: How Do You Prosper in a Plateau Environment? Adopt Digital Retailing Now
At the 2017 Automotive Forum in New York City, Cox Automotive COO Mark O’Neil issued a call to action: “Adopt digital retailing now or get left behind.”
In his speech, “Connected Retail: Deals in the Digital Age,” O’Neil provided a game plan for dealers wanting to prosper in the current plateau environment. Though he predicts that completing deals 100 percent online is approximately a year away, O’Neil highlighted the advantages of early adoption. O’Neil outlined several existing digital retailing tools that dealers can implement now as they move toward click to buy. One of the biggest objections to digital retailing from dealers is putting F&I information online, but Cox Automotive research shows that 83 percent of consumers are interested in learning about F&I products before entering the dealership.
The following digital retailing tools can speed up the sales process while providing consumers the option of performing tasks online at their own pace and from anywhere:
- Negotiating the deal including a real payment;
- Securing financing approval;
- Researching F&I products and choosing them online; and
- Receiving a real offer for their trade-in.
“Click to buy is definitely where we want and need to go in automotive,” said O’Neil. “Success in retail can only be achieved by giving consumers options that enable the buying experience that they want. The beauty of digital retailing is that it is a win-win. Consumers are happier3, and early studies show that digital retailing tools can help dealers turn inventory up to five days faster1 as compared to traditional sales.”
O’Neil explained that Cox Automotive data and industry insights show that consumers continue to be frustrated with several aspects of the car buying process. According to a recent Cox Automotive study, shoppers spend the majority of their in-store time at a dealership on an emotional rollercoaster that has a deep valley of negative emotions.
“If an amusement park only had one ride and it was a rollercoaster that was mostly flat, not many people would choose to go there,” said O’Neil. “In this case, consumers are spending too much time in activities that are not a fun part of the car buying process. We know that technology can make the buying process enjoyable and can improve the dealership’s effectiveness.”
He explained how various industries have created positive digital buying experiences that consumers want, including: Amazon, Domino’s, Rocket Mortgage and Zappos. All of these retailers use technology to enable a customized, fast and transparent buying experience that removes friction from the buying process while improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
By digitizing tasks in the buying process, consumers can spend their in-store time doing activities that research1 shows create positive emotions, such as: meeting an informed salesperson; test driving the vehicle; and taking delivery of the vehicle; and learning about its features and technology.
 Dealer.com internal data, based on vehicles that have at least 7 digital retail events.
 MakeMyDeal Finance and Insurance Study, 2015.
 Cox Automotive Emotional Connections Study, 2016.