LAS VEGAS — I ended nearly every conversation I had at this year's NADA Show with one question: What trends are coming for auto retail that no one is paying attention to?
Some predictions and insights from the vendors I spoke with:
• Cyberattacks will become more prevalent, and more costly.
• The retail industry must get better at unlocking the value of data.
• Consumers increasingly will connect directly with dealerships through Google and Facebook, rather than use those channels to go to a dealership's website.
But what I heard repeatedly was the need for dealerships to offer a personalized car-buying experience.
Over and over, people told me a customized and omnichannel experience is going to be the way dealers keep up with the Amazons and the Apples and the Carvanas of the world. And, generally, the perception is that dealerships continue to be slower to adapt.
Vendors displayed technology they say can allow sales and service employees to bring the process to the customer, rather than the customer to the process. The offerings ranged from self-service kiosks to online retailing products to customer-facing digital menus.
Why, for instance, shouldn't a service adviser be able to take a tablet to a customer in the service lane — without requiring her to get out of her car — or text her an invoice and allow her to approve and pay for all maintenance work remotely? Could allowing shoppers to choose their own finance-and-insurance add-on products earlier in the process lead to upsells, rather than lost profits, by switching the perception from one of selling to one of buying?
No one has figured out the complete solution. But if this year's show floor was any indication, it's very much in progress.
What caught your eye at the NADA Show this year? What is your dealership doing to stay innovative and ahead of the curve? As always, send ideas my way: [email protected].
By the way, thanks for all the first-timer tips. See you next year in New Orleans.