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More shoppers will turn to dealerships for information on electric vehicles, experts predict.

Retail Insights for 2023

As dealers look ahead to a new year, we recap some expert predictions to help plan for success.

Of course, no one really knows what’s ahead for the retail auto marketplace in 2023, but experts speaking at a Reuters Events Automotive Retail USA Conference earlier this year offered some clues.

Here’s a recap of some of what we reported from that Las Vegas conference plus some new insights to help dealers start planning for the year ahead.

SALES

  • As electric vehicles become more mainstream and high-volume, electric-vehicle shoppers will look to dealerships for answers about the new technology. That’s unlike the first wave of early EV adopters who analysts say schooled themselves about EVs.
     
  • Personalization based on customer data is becoming a customer expectation in auto retail. Meanwhile, auto retail is trying to catch up to other industries, where personalization is already commonplace.
     
  • Waiting lists are likely to get shorter in 2023 as new-vehicle supply improves, but they’re not going away. Even when new-vehicle production gets back to “normal,” dealerships better be prepared to keep customers on the waiting list engaged.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

At Nissan North America, which initially launched the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle back in late 2010, most U.S. dealerships already have EV sales specialists, as well as a mobile app which showroom personnel can use in the EV sales process, according to Judy Wheeler, divisional vice president, Nissan Sales & Regional Operations, Nissan U.S.

Nevertheless, she says all salespeople go through online training on EVs, and Nissan is hosting events so that salespeople can test drive EVs and ask questions. “How better to get sales personnel excited about the vehicle than putting them in a car and letting them drive it?” Wheeler says.

But EVs are still relatively new for most other brands, so they have work to do to train dealership personnel before EV shoppers show up with questions about the vehicles themselves, and also related questions, like home charging.

 PERSONALIZATION

Other retail industries, “from doggie daycare centers and hair salons to online shopping marketplaces,” are equipped to instantly recognize their customers, and know their individual preferences, Reuters reports. But OEMs and dealerships traditionally have had customer data in a lot of separate silos.

The silos can result in system problems, so customers are not recognized when they switch channels, for instance, from online to in-person. The goal is “persistent recognition,” says Meghan Haslemann, vice president of marketing for AutoNation Inc.

That requires integrating so-called “first-person” customer data, which the dealership gathers directly from the consumer, and data sourced from other companies. With enough data, software programs can be used to predict an individual’s lifetime value or determine when someone might need to bring a car in for service, the white paper says.

WAITING LISTS

Even when new-vehicle production catches up with demand, OEMs and dealerships hope to retain “pull” based, order-to-delivery selling, as opposed to the old “push” system of over-producing and discounting to move the metal.

That means waiting lists may be here to stay, even if it’s a shorter wait. The key to success is managing customer expectations with good communication, according to Scott Seidel, vice president, global strategic clients and automotive principal at Emplifi, a New York-based company that sells software to manage customer experience and social-media marketing.

 

 

 

 

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