The typical disjointed car buying journey is far from what the new breed of digital customer demands. They expect democracy and the freedom to conduct their business online at a time and place to suit their needs. They move seamlessly between channels at their own pace, asking for help when and how they need it.
Multi or Omnichannel retailing?
Car manufacturers are at various early stages in establishing an online sales channel. However, customers now expect a seamless experience between channels and so the customer rather than the car manufacturer needs to be at the centre. This is the difference between a multi and omnichannel approach. It is this focus on channel integration provided by an omnichannel approach that will enable the various sales channels to work in a unified way. This facilitates better personalisation and allows the customer to easily access information from any of the channels to provide a seamless journey. This is using online to sell rather than selling online.
Multi or Omnichannel eCommerce?
Ultimately, car manufacturers will need to provide an end to end eCommerce experience, providing customers with ways to easily purchase products online, increasing both sales and retention. They can do this by adding an additional ‘multi’ channel or ideally by putting the customer at the centre of their ‘omni’ channel sales mix.
The debate centres on how best to deploy resources to roll this strategy out across multiple brands, markets and product lines. While customers will still make purchases through multichannel eCommerce, an omnichannel approach typically delivers more total sales An omnichannel approach ensures all channels are unified, encouraging customers make use of multiple channels. This will create an overall greater volume of sales, but means the benefit of eCommerce must not only be measured through sales transacted online. The implication of this is that any eCommerce roadmap should use a phased approach, with many benefits being delivered way ahead of the full eCommerce journey.
Car manufacturers are mostly focused on adding eCommerce to build out their multichannel sales mix. The challenge is to move beyond the myopia of buying online and put the customer rather than themselves at the heart of the car buying sale journey. The Auto Zebra Assisted Selling approach has this omnichannel view as a foundation, concentrating on using online to sell rather than the narrower view of eCommerce selling online.