Beacons take on car dealers
While American car sales web site Autotrader.com announced in March that it intended to deploy an omnichannel platform using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology, now car manufacturer Ford is also launching out into beacons in dealerships to offer a first-rate customer experience.
At autotrader.com, beacons (fitted in vehicles) collect data on customers paths-to-purchase in dealerships. The customer also receives fact sheets on secondhand vehicles at the point of sale, which are pinned as favourites on the buyer’s web profile.
The same story at Ford. For Ford.com digital manager Trisha Habucke, this is about addressing new behaviour patterns: “the purchasing cycle in dealerships is shorter nowadays because our customers check on the web before coming, so we have to ensure a continuum with the web”. Beacons at Ford will make the link between the online and offline experience.
Now it’s the turn of the car industry to take an interest in beacon technology to meet the expectations of connected buyers in search of independence in their path to purchase.
Autotrader’s initiative shows that what now matters is the continuum of the relationship in the customer experience, in this instance with the bridge between the customer’s online account and the vehicle, which is offline.
Another advantage for Autotrader is the possibility of offering its advertiser customers a platform for monetizing its audience. Autotrader’s beacons will be able to measure footfall in dealerships, while at the same time offering users a seamless “online to offline” experience.
Ideally, in the opinion of Mr Acosta, Autotrader.com’s mobile marketing manager, the experience should go even further: “Tomorrow with beacons, I should be able to unlock a car in the dealership’s car park, get into it while reading the advertisement on the site, watch videos on the car’s performance and its options, and view the finance package. In a word, this is about accessing anything that makes the purchase easier.”
The same goes for Ford; in the quest for a seamless world, the beacon emerges as the ideal tool linking the digital and the physical world. On the other hand, faced with these new challenges, the role of the salesperson will also have to evolve in the face of this independence of buyers.
These tests will be highly instructive, because if there is one sector in which pushed web content can add value to the customer experience, it is indeed car dealerships.