We're officially more than halfway through 2021, so it seems like a good time to check in on the trends we identified back in January as the ones to keep tabs on this year.
My colleague David Muller and I outlined a handful of things to watch. They were:
- The momentum around omnichannel retailing, or the seamless transition between buying online, in store or a combination of the two.
- More states allowing electronic signatures on vehicle purchase contracts in place of wet ink.
- Continued growth among online used-vehicle retailers, such as Carvana and Vroom.
- The digital evolution underway for auto auctions.
There has been activity in all of those areas so far this year.
My reporting over the past six months also has turned up other trends that I'll be watching for the balance of 2021. Here are a couple:
A digital retailing rush by vendors and automakers: Software that enables an online vehicle purchase continues to be a hot commodity after the pandemic pushed auto retailers faster into e-commerce. Automakers are developing their own branded digital retailing tools and encouraging their dealers to use them. Dealership management system giants CDK Global Inc. and Reynolds and Reynolds Co. bought two prominent digital retailing providers, Roadster and Gubagoo. And used-vehicle retailer CarMax acquired vehicle listings company Edmunds and jointly built a tool that provides instant appraisals and cash offers for trade-ins. It's not out of the question that more companies will want to get into the digital retailing space.
Data protection is paramount: From ransomware attacks to data breaches, cybersecurity threats are becoming a major issue. Information technology consultants that work with dealerships have said they observe critical and credible threats on a regular basis. Dealerships should be vetting their vendors' data security practices, training their employees to spot phishing emails and deploying multifactor authentication, encryption and strong passwords across their organizations.
What other trends should be on this list? Send them my way: [email protected].