LAS VEGAS – vAuto is introducing auto retailing’s first voice-enabled digital assistant, describing it as a device that will help used-car departments manage their inventories without spending undue time staring at computer screens.
Touting it as a breakthrough, the Cox Automotive brand is demonstrating Nexi at the National Automobile Dealers Assn.’s Convention and Exposition here.
Nexis works through Amazon’s Alexa Echo Device. Dealers can verbally address it to get spoken information. The cloud-based service answers assorted questions on inventory, local market data, operations and other business matters.
Dale Pollak, founder of vAuto and Cox Automotive’s executive vice president, came up with the idea for the dealer-specific Nexi.
“It occurred to me to take the benefits of AI, and bring them to the dealership environment,” he tells WardsAuto.
A used-car manager’s conversation with the device goes something like this: “Alexa, ask Nexi to tell me how many listed vehicles are missing photos” A woman’s voice responses with the requested real-time information.
“You should not have to spend a day on a computer when the information can be brought to you,” Pollak says.
Amazon charges Cox Automotive for the Alexa piggy-backing. Early vAuto demonstrations of the device have impressed people. That’s gratifying to Pollak. But, he says, “I don’t want expectations to be too high. AI is in its infancy.”
The Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review surveyed more than 3,000 business executives, managers, and analysts for their views on AI.
Eighty-four percent of respondents say it will enable them to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage and 63% believe the pressure to reduce costs will require their organizations to use AI in the next five years.
“Retail automotive is ripe for AI,” says Pollak, adding that dealers face compressed profit margins today. “The answer to this problem is increased operational efficiencies, and Nexi helps dealers take a significant step in this direction.”
Nexi will be offered at no additional cost to vAuto customers who use Stockwave, vAuto’s proprietary software that helps dealers analyze their inventories and notifies them when used cars they specifically want to stock become available at auctions and other remarketing outlets.