The Benefits of Digital Retailing

by John Currado

We are in a transformative era in the Canadian automotive landscape, one that is marked by rapidly advancing technology and changing consumer preferences.  In the past few years, digital retailing has emerged as a game changer and has empowered customers with convenience, transparency, and personalized experiences.  With a slew of digital tools at their fingertips, we have seen a shift in the way consumers interact with automotive dealerships from browsing to purchasing and we are seeing, in real time, the changes that are reshaping the industry’s future.  As invested stakeholders, it is our responsibility to understand the key trends that are driving this evolution and the subsequent impact of those changes so that we are better prepared to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. 

Today’s consumers are more tech-savvy and digitally connected than ever before.  They expect a seamless and personalized shopping experience across all industries, including automotive. For example, the customers of today have access to an abundance of comprehensive vehicle information, including specifications, pricing, and customer reviews.  Armed with this information, they are making more effective decisions, including walking away if they feel like their needs are not being met.  Understanding how much, or how little, customers want to interact is important when delivering the right experience.  Moreover, chatbots and virtual assistants provide immediate responses to customer inquiries, guiding them through the purchasing process and addressing any concerns.  For those customers wanting that autonomous experience, AI-powered recommendation engines offer personalized vehicle suggestions based on individual preferences and could deliver on that hand-offs experience, if that is what the customer wants. 

The recent emergence of interactive virtual showrooms and synergistic AI tools, such as 360-degree vehicle tours, virtual reality test drives, and augmented reality customization, allow customers to visualize their desired vehicles and configurations.  These immersive experiences bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds, enhancing customer engagement and satisfaction and a good example of a way to deliver an experience in the face of the challenging supply chain issues. 

Digital retailing has now given Dealers, OEMs and Lenders a bigger advantage with access to a wealth of customer data, which can enable targeted marketing and efficient lead generation.  Through analytics and customer profiling, key stakeholders can identify potential buyers and tailor marketing campaigns to suit individual preferences.  Additionally, automated customer relationship management tools help nurture leads through personalized communication, resulting in higher conversion rates.  By leveraging data-driven insights, dealerships can optimize their marketing strategies, improve customer targeting, and drive sales growth. 

One of the most significant advantages of digital retailing for the automotive industry is the simplification of financing and payment processes.  Our taq one Solution™ provides customers with easy access to financing calculators, loans and lease applications, and credit approvals, allowing them to estimate monthly payments and explore financing options.  As well, it is designed to enable digital signatures, facilitate remote paperwork, and minimize the time spent at the dealership.  At taq, we understand that a streamlined financing processes increases customer satisfaction and reduces transactional friction, which results in a more efficient and enjoyable customer purchasing experience. 

Digital retailing has transformed the automotive industry in ways we could never have imagined; it has empowered customers, redefined the traditional dealership experience and given us, the stakeholder, opportunities to bring decades-old processes into the 21st century.  Solutions that offer convenience, autonomy, transparency, and personalized interactions have become essential tools that invested stakeholders need to embrace to attract and engage consumers.  And, as technology continues to advance, the integration of AI, automation, and the immersive experiences will further enhance the digital retailing landscape.  These shifts in consumer expectations and behaviour have reverberated loudly and we, as stakeholders, need to reimagine the way we design processes, deliver solutions, and shape experiences, to ensure our customer’s needs are being met at every touchpoint along their buying journey.   To thrive in this new era, it’s imperative to prioritize customer-centric strategies to meet evolving consumer expectations.