Technology Infrastructure: Essential for Vehicle Sales
As consumer preferences evolved in response to the pandemic, the automotive industry had to adapt its processes to the new way of doing business. In this new dynamic, technology has stepped in to assist and improve the sales process for OEMs. However, the challenges for the entire ecosystem to fully embrace the digital sphere are still abundant.
Technology has positioned itself as a partner of the automotive industry, helping brands reach their consumers in a different and sometimes more immediate way, said Miguel Barbeyto, President of Mazda Mexico. “In the automotive industry for some time now we have seen the evolution of technology in leaps and bounds. However, the transformation that consumer preferences are going through has set great challenges for the entire ecosystem.” At Mazda, Barbeyto added, it has been key not to neglect the detail and care that the human factor has brought to the carmaker. “AI has delivered a lot to the industry and it is impressive but companies have to find a balance between the digital and the physical experience.”
One of the issues challenging the industry is budget. To overcome this challenge, said Jorge Vallejo, President and CEO at Mitsubishi Motors de Mexico, many misconceptions have to be overcome, ranging from dealers to the sales force. “While there are teams that are exceeding their goals by using all these tools in their processes, there are others that are not going to be able to change their mindset and use these tools to their favor,” he explained, “It all starts with seeing technology as an ally and not as a risk.”
Data provided by tools such as IA cannot remain only in the hands of a few, but must be shared with distributors and producers in order to “unify efforts,” said Vallejo. According to Google's Community Mobility Report, search volume for the best deals on cars and trucks grew 70 percent globally in March 2020 compared to the same period last year. “This means that people are increasingly turning to any digital tool to compare car models and prices.”
The luxury automotive sector also had to take the leap into the digital world, driven by the fact that in recent months the concept of luxury has been redefined in the minds of consumers, said Raúl Peñafiel, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover. “We now have customer profiles that buy a Land Rover but do not show their preferences in the way they dress,” he said. “Customers have a broader definition of what is a luxury to them.” Faced with this scenario, Jaguar Land Rover has relied on technology to balance the "dichotomy between being increasingly efficient and attractive while simultaneously improving the customer experience."
The customer experience, however, does not end when the check is signed and that is where digital tools play a key role in customer retention and satisfaction, said Regina Granados, CEO of LeasePlan Mexico, a leasing company operating in more than 30 countries and with more than 13 years of experience in Mexico. “Selling is much easier if your customers are satisfied and if it is a word-of-mouth recommendation.”
Customer onboarding through technology has become a central part of automotive companies' strategy in recent months. But entering as a technology provider is not easy in this industry, said Joaquín Rivera, CEO and Co-Founder of Kikoya, a technology provider that specializes in credit origination processes. “We perceive a need to own and control end-to-end processes,” said Rivera.