Dealerships using a new online shopping platform now have an additional tool to help them recommend vehicles to consumers.
Roadster, the company that last summer launched its Express Storefront platform for dealership websites that allows consumers to complete transactions online, has added a new feature to its in-store iOS app that can help salespeople recommend vehicles for people who choose to come into the store.
Salespeople using the tool can walk a customer through a "needs assessment" on an iPad and search a store's inventory based on the features, make, model, price and other options that a customer is interested in. Instead of a salesman having to remember the feature sets and prices for dozens of vehicles to recommend to shoppers, the assessment tool can highlight the vehicles that align with their needs.
Roadster, a startup based in San Francisco, made its name working as a broker to close deals so consumers could order a vehicle online without coming into a store. It's still working on improving the experience for those who want to come in.
"Using the iPad as the means to make recommendations, it gets you away from that salesperson trying to sell the car he's had for six months and can't get rid of," Andy Moss, CEO of Roadster, told Automotive News. "It's trying to make [the sales process] very transparent."
The in-store app is an extension of Roadster's Express Storefront online-shopping portal, which is hosted on dealer websites and allows shoppers to select a vehicle, get approved for credit, sift through F&I options and have the car or truck delivered to them. The in-store app enables salespeople to work through a deal alongside a customer on a tablet in the showroom.
Many technology companies and big dealership groups have been working on similar efforts to streamline auto buying to make it more like the online shopping experience consumers are used to.
Toyota Marin has been using Express Storefront since last summer. The San Rafael, Calif., store sells around 40 cars per month completely online through the platform, said Mike Christian, Toyota Marin's general manager.
Christian said some customers come into dealerships after doing 11 hours of research online, but salespeople still are behaving the same way they did 30 years ago.
"Today, we want to meet that customer, [use] that information they've been able to find and aggregate that and serve it up to the sales professional so they can be more efficient," he said.
Instead of starting a conversation from scratch to find out what a customer wants, sales staffers can run through the needs assessment and present them with various options.
Plus, Christian said, shoppers often come into stores with plans to buy a particular car and end up with something else. Using the needs assessment feature gives salespeople the opportunity to recommend cars that clients would be happier with, which Christian says can boost customer satisfaction.