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Summer is here. People have long since abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. The sun-bathers are emerging from winter hibernation. In other words, 2017 is in full swing, and change is coming. Below are the automotive industry trends from within and without the automotive industry that are growing to be major disruptive forces.
The car business is tough, but nobody’s in it because it’s easy. The truth is, there’s a lot of money to be made. For the last few years, tech companies have mostly just fiddled around with self-driving cars and had a lot of fun doing so. Now, they’re getting a bit more serious.
If you haven’t already, check out Amazon Your Garage and Amazon Vehicles. The first lets you store information about your car, all the specs and details. The second lets you look at a near-infinite online storeroom of cars and play with them to fit your exact specifications. It has all the same patterns and processes as buying something on Amazon, but they stop short at actually letting you purchase the car (for now). The indication: Amazon is gearing up to get involved in the auto industry.
It doesn’t stop at Amazon. There have been rumors for a couple years about Apple building a car, but this year, it has become a certainty. The release date is set for 2021. Sure, not everyone will be able to afford an iCar (or whatever they name it), but it will set a standard for vehicles, just like the iPhone did for cell phones.
Tesla has firmly entrenched itself in the market. While it’s no longer a car exclusively for Silicon Valley showoffs, it’s not widespread yet. But if it seems like you’re seeing more and more on the road, it’s not just because you’re noticing them more. Tesla sells cars in a way that circumvents the whole dealership experience, and by all accounts, customers respond to that.
2017 is the year to prepare for tech companies and non-traditional competitors jumping into automotive.
You’ve been hearing it for years, “get on the mobile train,” “your website better be responsive,” and so forth. But don’t glaze over this section, it isn’t the same old “mobile is important message.” We’re going to unabashedly double down and say that these days, mobile can make or break a dealership, and it’s more often the latter.
Unless you do business exclusively in a town that has rejected all technology since 2002 (and if you do, let us know, because we want to go there and pretend our iPhones are magic), more of your traffic is coming from mobile than from desktop. And that difference is growing quickly. Mobile has become so important that 85% of consumers say they’re unlikely to do business with an organization following a bad mobile experience.
Providing a mobile experience that won’t drive away customers goes beyond having a “responsive website”, the favored buzzword of the slightly-behind-the-times. A dealership’s website has to do more than shrink down to mobile-phone size and not break to pass the test. Google, Apple, and 10,000 other delightful apps have set the bar for mobile experience very high, and a dealership website has to be comparable when it comes to design, speed, and ease of use.
In 2017, dealers are going to have to bring their mobile sites from functional to fantastic.
For all of the dealers who have been drowning in race-to-the-bottom price wars (and all the grief those bring), 2017 may offer some reprieve. We’re not saying price isn’t still important, but there’s a new field of battle available, and OEMs and dealers across the country are taking this chance to seize the high ground.
We’re talking about Customer Experience (CX).
OEMs like Mazda, Nissan, Ford, GM, and others have begun to launch new business strategies that focus on Customer Experience, and are incentivizing or working with their dealerships to build good CX from the showroom up. As these initiatives start taking hold, some dealerships are hitting the ground running, winning sales right and left with much better CX than their local competitors.
2017 is the year to take the CX initiative and get ahead before getting left behind.
Honestly, it’s always a bit of a shock to remember that it’s been 17 years since 2000. But when we look at changes in the automotive industry, it seems like it’s been a century. And this year is only going to make those changes more obvious. 2017’s already been crazy for a whole number of reasons, but the disruption of the automotive industry might be the craziest yet.