ENGAGING with new technology is critical for leasing brokers to survive.

It’s changing our lives rapidly. And all the time. High-speed internet via smart handsets, automation, and analytical tools have not only changed the face of the automotive sector but the global economy as well.

If we look to other sectors the same is true. Online lottery leaders  for example, have embraced online technology and doubled business in less than five years.

Turning back to automotive, r2c Online is a leading UK provider of connected software platforms for vehicle compliance and maintenance management.

The company says its digital platform is behind its exceptional growth over the past five years, having just succeeded in passing a double milestone of 10 million completed jobsheets and 10 million driver checks this year.

 r2c’s online operations and product development director Tim Griffiths says:

Around two-thirds of the 20 million completed jobs and checks have come in the last five years, illustrating that the industry is changing the way it manages service, maintenance and repair. 

Clearly, these figures show a huge move towards the adoption of digital processes to streamline the way it works, but also, because the platform allows users to join a community of supporting suppliers and operators, it offers huge choice and in these challenging times that flexibility has been shown to be hugely beneficial.

Tim adds that  the r2c platform is now handling more than 10,000 driver checks a day, up a fifth on a year previously, while the level of attention vehicle condition is now getting from its users is remarkable: more than 20,000 defects are being reported each day.

How technology is helping RV remarketing

The remarketing sector is looking to embrace new technology to understand vehicle connected data.

Debbie Fox, commercial director at epyx, said that they had been involved in several encouraging conversations throughout the sector – ranging from vehicle leasing specialists to dealer groups – regarding the possibilities of accessing data through connected vehicles.

The huge advantage for the used car and van sector is that information covering key lifecycle events that potentially affect the vehicle’s value can be drawn directly from the car and van, and built up over time, without the need for a telematics-style ‘black box.’

For example, connected vehicle technology makes mileage tampering – or ‘clocking’ nearly impossible because the mileage of a vehicle can be continuously monitored and any major discrepancies will be plainly obvious.

Using the power of the 1link Service Network, we could match data covering when the vehicle was serviced and which maintenance actions were undertaken to rich information about usage and the manner in which it has been driven, providing a comprehensive view of a vehicle’s condition. 

The benefits of this for the remarketing sector are clear. They will be able to provide information that has an extremely high degree of veracity that can be used to maximise the value of the vehicle by proving its provenance to traders and retail buyers.

New Google Vehicle Ads will change customer journey

Technology is also changing how cars are marketed to users. Currently in the US, Google  Vehicle Ads (GVAs) offer a new way to attract interest from car buyers in the near vicinity.

Introducing its new GVAs, Google says that 89% of new car buyers researched their new vehicle online.  And shoppers aren’t just looking up information online — they’re purchasing there, too. In 2021, 16% of new car buyers purchased their car online, up from only 1% three years prior. “Shoppers today expect an easy and helpful experience when they search for what to buy. It’s important for auto advertisers to get in front of car shoppers with the right information and inventory,” Google added in its blog on GVAs.

James Tew, CEO of iVendi,  a connected vehicle retail technology specialist, said that the development could significantly change the online journey taken by car buyers.

GVAs have been launched in the US and appear to be having quite an effect on customer and dealer behaviour. What they do is very simple – buyers who search for a vehicle in Google are shown a selection of local stock that meets their needs.

To make this possible, dealers simply need to upload their stock list to Google and are charged on a pay-per-click (PPC) rate similar to the kind they currently pay.

GVAs mean that the online journey becomes more direct and leaner. The customer goes straight from search engine to retailer web site without any intermediary.

There are several implications to this but perhaps the most significant is that the dealer needs to ensure that the page of their web site on which the customer lands provides them with all the information they need about the vehicle – and crucially a clear route to handle the entire purchasing process in whatever manner they see fit.

This means a slick online journey covering everything from reservations to finance to part exchange needs to be included but, most importantly of all, that potential buyers can move between digital and showroom channels at will. Our research shows that this is overwhelmingly how most customers want to shop.

James added that the company was launching new technology soon that would allow dealers to track an entire customer journey – which vehicles they have viewed, when and where. This, he said, would support the higher degree of transparency that GVAs offer.

Making the customer journey easier

For brokers, making the customer journey easier and simpler is key for success in the future. From integrated APIs to a full end to end digital experience, these are the areas that brokers will need to have in order to survive and be successful in the future.

Standing still is not an option – unless it’s for built-in obsolescence.

Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio

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