By Katie Kochelek – Frank Mayer and Associates Inc.
I was maybe 15 or 16 when I went with my dad to buy the next family car.
It was the late 90s, so the purchasing experience was done in that traditional way of which we’ve grown nostalgic. I remember a collection of thick, glossy pamphlets from each car brand accumulating on our kitchen table, and I’d flip through pages of different models, reading about the various features each offered. When my father had finally narrowed down his “Favorites” list, we set aside a Saturday to visit the dealerships.
Each appointment involved poking around the car, listening to the sales person’s pitch, and taking a test drive. When a winner was finally chosen, we sat down to do that usual song and dance to secure the best price.
Fast forward to 2018. Think of the most recent time you bought a car. Did you refer to those glossy brochures or did you go straight to the Internet to visit the brand’s homepage and find your nearby dealer location?
Did you read reviews, view photos, and look up the fairest pricing?
The car buying method has changed immensely, with digital sales tools creating an omnichannel experience that helps prospective clients come to a dealership armed with more insight than what was typically found in the catalogs.
But how can car brands capitalize on the modern-day consumer’s demand for convenience and immediate information while also benefitting their bottom line?
With more business verticals adopting self-service technologies to meet customer desires, the car industry can also utilize these same systems to allow buyers to seamlessly move between digital capacities and the showroom floor.
Self-service kiosks for the automobile industry can help put the customer in charge of his or her experience.
We’re already seeing glimpses of what this looks like. Just recently, Walmart announced a partnership with CarSaver to offer customers a way to purchase a vehicle through kiosks and CarSaver agents within the walls of select stores. While the program is in its infancy, it’ll be interesting to learn what benefits Walmart and CarSaver experience from meeting the customer on his or her territory.
And while programs like this are already showing the impact self-service kiosks can afford the auto industry, there are also numerous self-service functions that have yet to be implemented that can be advantageous to brands and dealerships in the future.
For one, service departments could specifically benefit from kiosks. Imagine customers who need a simple service like an oil change. A quick drop-off at the car bay would be beneficial to owners who can leave their cars by signing into a kiosk, choosing an appointment time, and walking away with a key to a loaner car. All done without needing to wait for a customer service rep at the counter.
Service-related kiosks would provide specific perks to hurried car owners, but an endless aisle kiosk would also be an enticing beacon to customers waiting for their tune up in the service lobby. Interactive features, customization options, and product recommendations would help car makers entice brand loyalists to check out the latest car models or after-market additions available.
These kiosks would fit in seamlessly on the showroom floor as added sales tools, as well.
Have you ever built a customized car online? (And I’m not talking about that souped-up James Bond sports car we’ve all built in our head).
You spend time picking out the type of tires, choosing a color, deciding on a sun roof, and grappling with the idea of splurging for the satellite radio subscription. Now picture yourself walking into a showroom, finding a kiosk, and logging into your account that houses your saved car, complete with all your add-ons.
Visualize the convenience this would offer customers who can flag down a sales associate to help make their vision a reality by referencing the car on the screen.
The infinite possibilities for car brands to not only grab buyer attention online, but to carry the excitement and transparency through to a showroom floor is the future of car buying. And in the middle of it all, self-service and custom kiosks will be an essential component in these plans.
And if you’re looking for a car-buying partner, I can dream up a pretty mean Aston Martin with all the bells and whistles.
Did you know Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc. boasts both stock self-service kiosks as well as custom solution kiosks as part of our portfolio? In fact, our work on the FCA Media Center is an example of how well we understand car brand needs. Read more about it here to discover how our kiosk enclosure helped resolve common pain points for a well-known car brand.
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