Louis-Yves Cloutier Talks Digital and Omnichannel Retailing on the BeBack Podcast

Hosted by Pier-Olivier Beaupré (co-founder of Pixel Guru), BeBack is the very first French-language podcast exclusively dedicated to automotive dealers. On the episode which aired July 4, 2021, our CEO Louis-Yves Cloutier was invited to talk about digital retailing.

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Highlights of the show
A focus on digital retailing

Digital retailing or e-commerce encompasses everything that allows a consumer’s transaction to move forward online. Many believe that it is simply a matter of being able to make a transaction on the internet. But, talking only about transactions or the creation of online opportunities would be an oversimplification. The focus is more on customer engagement and the purchasing experience.

Our studies have shown that visitors spend an average of 2 minutes on a website that does not have a “build and buy” module. On sites that have a new vehicle construction and pricing functionality, the average time increases to 8 minutes. Preliminary engagement begins when potential customers spend time on the site assembling their vehicles and making payment choices. This is already a form of engagement. 

    • Until last year, we still had some trouble getting dealers to understand how to measure the success of digital retailing. Today, we know that customer engagement should be measured throughout the entire purchasing process.
    • With Covid-19, consumers are well aware that it is possible to make transactions remotely and that this trend is not about to be reversed.

    • Today, a dealership needs to assess its online presence and ask what it is offering its customer so that they can feel they have control over building their next deal (similar to Amazon or eBay).

Digital retailing is a bit more complicated for the automotive industry, as these complex transactions include monthly payments, trade-in value, credit application, not to mention the emotional factors that come into play during the road test.

It is important to clarify that digital retailing takes into account all aspects of the purchasing process. A customer who built their vehicle online and comes to test the vehicle afterwards is not a walk in, but rather an online sale. 

The important question now is how to break the silo between online and in-dealership sales.

digital retailing - 360.Agency
The principles of omnichannel

Omnichannel selling lets consumers engage in a transaction without constraints, how they want and when they want. It ensures a seamless shopping experience. 

Currently, there is still a tendency to differentiate online sales from in-store sales in the automotive industry. In this past year, a 5-year technological leap has occurred in just a few months. Consumers don’t want to start their research and decision-making process all over again because of a change in platform. It is counterproductive and generates frustration for both the buyer and seller. 

The customer wants to be in control of the purchasing process, and decide where and when the transaction will take place. The omnichannel dealer’s mission is to offer customers as many choices as possible and be available when deciding to buy. Since the customer’s vehicle and pricing options are saved in their online account, they can finalize their purchase at a dealership, from home–even in the middle of the night if they wish. 

    • Dealers must adapt to changes in buyer behaviour to remain relevant, as even a slight difference between the online and dealership price calls into question the dealership’s reliability in the eyes of consumers.
    • In my opinion, the term digital retailing is already outdated. In a few years from now, we will only be talking about omnichannel retailing. Consumers now want it to be as easy to buy a car as it is to buy a pair of shoes.
    • The tool makes up 50% of the work, the other 50% is the dealership’s culture and processes. Simply having all the tools is not enough. If sellers continue to work the same way as before and don’t understand what omnichannel is, in the long term they will lose sales because they will not be able to reach the new generations of ultra-connected buyers who already use this new purchasing process.

Most consumers like to get their loved ones’ approval when deciding to purchase a vehicle. Clients feel reassured because they have all the information about the vehicle, the F&I and the monthly payments saved in their online account. They can consult their family or friends and show them their choice of vehicle, and get them on board with online vehicle purchasing, too.

illustration vente omnicanal - 360.Agency
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