Digitalization in the automotive trade – considerable gap between requirement and service

Although customer contact in purchasing cars is increasingly relocating to digital sales channels, car dealerships are still neglecting the potential of digitalization. While dealerships already use digital instruments in the showroom, service and marketing, they are often lacking in a target-oriented strategy. For the first time, rpc – The Retail Performance Company is offering dealerships in the automotive sector a coaching program to optimally prepare their own companies for the requirements of digital customers. 


Digitalization is also radically changing the rules in car dealerships because the customer’s behavior adapts to diverse digital opportunities. Today’s digital customers have requirements that differ greatly when purchasing cars and services. They are extremely price-conscious, well-informed and open-minded about digital technologies. A development that car dealers have to face. It is common practice that prospective buyers configure their desired car online and check financing options on portals. Today, almost 40% of automotive customers look at purchasing a car or a service through an online channel – and the obstacles to doing so should be as low as possible.


“Car dealers must increasingly focus on online channels in order to be prepared for the digital future,” says Christian Feilmeier, Managing Director at rpc – The Retail Performance Company. The number of touchpoints with which customers interact with the brand has increased hugely as a result of digitalization. Consequently, visits to car dealerships per car purchase are steadily becoming fewer. Dealers must react to this changing situation.


New territory for dealers

Putting together a Facebook page or a Twitter account alone will not guarantee automatic success for dealers. Instead, a productive strategy for a business’ digital transformation is what stands behind a successful commercial philosophy online and on social media. Communication and marketing play an important role in its subsequent implementation. Despite close ties with manufacturers, in their digitalization strategy dealerships are facing the challenge of defining a target image for themselves in order to be successful. “Even though everyone is looking for the optimal strategy, there is no general solution for car dealerships,” emphasizes Andrea Hickethier, Customer Experience Expert at rpc. Every individual dealership must find tailored solutions for its own business situation. 


For this purpose, rpc offers a coaching with its Digital Fitness Program (DFP), which works throughout the industry sector. From the vision and goal of digitalization in your own business to deriving strategic goals and specific measures, the rpc consultants develop a strategy for successfully dealing with digitalization together with the dealers. The objective is to find individual solutions for the dealerships that can be put into action quickly and precisely. “We step into the client’s shoes and go through the customer journey together with the dealer,” says Andrea Hickethier, explaining the method of the Digital Fitness Program. This includes an analysis of customer behavior, own objectives and the measures derived from this.


In total, the DFP contains 12 modules that customers select from a toolbox to fit the requirements and goals of their businesses. Topics of the modules include: “Social networks as new channels in online marketing – hype or necessity?”, “How can a car dealership make progress in the customer aspect through mobile marketing?” and “The most important key data for online marketing performance.”


Andrea Hickethier: “If a car dealership wants success in business, it needs to offer an optimal customer experience – and customers don’t differentiate between receiving it either online or offline.” With the Digital Fitness Program, rpc offers dealers a coaching program so that they can use digital media and instruments alongside a developed strategy, in order to offer their customers the best purchasing and brand experience possible. The Digital Fitness Program is currently designed to focus on the automotive industry but it can be transferred to other sectors facing similar challenges related to digitalization.


Using the link http://dfp.rpc-partners.com/precheck/index, you can do a quick check to see how your business in the automotive sector is structured digitally.

rpc – The Retail Performance Company
Katharina Weindl
Tel: +49 (0) 160 973 244 09, E-Mail: katharina.weindl@rpc-partners.com