Toyota Financial explores how to improve e-commerce

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

As more shoppers turn to e-commerce as part of buying a car, Toyota Financial Services is turning to its U.S. dealers to find ways to improve its digital offerings.

“We’re having a lot of discussions with our dealers and the car divisions of Toyota, Scion and Lexus about what that customer experience should look like,” Mike Groff, CEO of Toyota Financial Services, told Automotive News. “We’re looking at the chain of events the customer goes through from their first investigation of a vehicle on through a purchase and looking at where Toyota Financial Services plays a role.”

A major push: e-contracting, which Toyota Financial Services launched about two years ago. Currently, more than 70 percent of its loan contracts are done electronically, Groff said. That’s about 1.2 million contracts a year, he said.

“E-contracting will really be a requirement” one day, Groff said.

Adding forms

So Toyota Financial Services is taking steps to improve its digital offerings. For example, it continues to add forms that dealers might need to go more paperless, Groff said.

Groff said all Toyota Financial Service forms now are available in electronic form. The company makes updates and changes to them on a continual basis.

“We do find from time to time that dealers have a specific form within their state that we are asked to convert to digital, but most have now been completed,” Groff said in an email. “One key area we’ve started work on is the non-Toyota Financial Service forms, such as Department of Motor Vehicle forms, that we do not have control over. We continue to look for ways to bridge this particular gap.”

The captive lender also is working with its dealers and sales division leaders to find ways that better integrate a customer’s digital experience with his or her dealership experience.

Educating online

“We want to educate customers,” said Groff. “If they want to know about the difference between financing and leasing, is there an opportunity for them to click and there’s an explanation of what leasing means and how it works?”

That educational aspect, he said, also should extend to “applying for credit online, signing up for insurance products online and the explanation of what those various insurance products do for them and the services they provide for them.”

Toyota Financial Services is working on a pilot with Scion called the Scion Pure Process Pilot. It allows online users to configure a vehicle, find that vehicle in dealer inventory, research finance and insurance options, estimate payments and apply for credit.

Other online features that Toyota Financial Services offers include retail and lease payment estimators, online credit applications that are linked to dealers and to RouteOne/Toyota Financial Services, insurance content and needs-assessment aids, financial education and retention content such as lease-end services.

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