The concept of the “Last Mile” has been central to the success of many emerging businesses, as well as the transformation of entire industries in recent years.
The term is used in supply-chain management and transportation planning to portray the final part of a journey comprising the movement of people and goods from a transportation hub to a final destination.
Amazon.com has perfected the Last Mile as part of a comprehensive transportation network of people and packages from hubs to final destinations and has become a benchmark in business best-practice. Last-mile delivery has seen explosive growth in business-to-consumer (b2c) deliveries, in e-commerce companies in freight transportation and ride-sharing companies in personal transportation.
In the world of automotive, data is now the “Last Mile.”
Where Is the Last Mile in Automotive?
All automotive industry stakeholders – manufacturers, auto lenders, marketers, retailers and data companies – have built their own suite of technologies to facilitate modern retailing that seamlessly connects online shopping with the showroom. However, it’s the complete, timely and accurate data that represents the industry’s Last Mile.
A complete data set intrinsically and correctly connects each of the stakeholders in a central hub, which facilitates a transparent, frictionless and much improved customer experience, regardless of where the consumers are in their shopping journey.
Don’t get me wrong; this industry has had plenty of data for a long time, and a vast majority of this data does a great job of telling you what the trends were 90 days ago. However, all that data without science is just noise. Now, there is a platform that ties together all the pertinent data points necessary to arrive at a scientifically perfect, transactable solution for the customer.
Today, each primary area of the industry has access to powerful analytics platforms to make educated, tactical and profitable decisions – all for the benefit of the customer.
Data Isn’t Good Enough; We Need Scientifically Powered Data
The best solutions today are designed to empower and enable retailers to excel in modern retailing and revolutionize the way manufacturers and lenders work with agency partners and technology providers to construct consumer offerings that win market share without overspending.
What’s empowering and driving this ecosystem of modern retailing for automotive is a comprehensive database containing every parameter, policy and factor that can influence an automotive sale or lease transaction.
A scientifically perfect payment quoted to a consumer is incredibly complex as it must take into account a myriad of critical factors, to include every lender program, every manufacturer rebate and incentive, every municipality tax and fee – and every term and condition under which each retailer is willing to transact.
You may wonder why we need scientifically powered data to connect everything? Because today’s consumers are smarter than ever, and they have plenty of tools at their disposal that help them make their decisions easier.
What’s more, they have more options than ever before to find a car or truck outside of a traditional retailer. It all hinges on artfully combining science and technology with the right data, and this Last Mile of data is now being used to connect shoppers with the right car at the right price and payment.
It’s no surprise that price and payment negotiation remain among the most important aspects of the car-shopping experience for consumers. A recent survey commissioned by Market Scan showed nearly half of all respondents (45%) say price and payments matter to them the most.
Solving the Last Mile Disconnect With Consumers
The disconnect between shopping online and the experience at a dealer showroom remains a major headache for many consumers. In fact, when it comes to online shopping, 49% say they need to restart the entire process when they arrive at the dealership after doing all their homework online, ahead of time. Furthermore, 43% are frustrated that discrepancies exist between the online offer and the one they are presented with at the dealership.
Why does this matter? Twenty-one percent of shoppers say they begin to lose trust in their dealer when the discrepancy between the online offer and showroom offer is at least $50 per month. In parallel, 21% say they actually will walk away from the deal if the discrepancy is at least $50 per month, and 48% say they will walk if the difference is $75 per month.
This isn’t all the dealer’s fault. When dealers aren’t seamlessly connected to their OEM and lender partners, or their agency and technology partners don’t use the correct data, the whole system falls flat and the customer experiences the disconnect.
It’s time for everyone in the automotive industry to embrace that combining science and technology will enable us to deploy and leverage the right data, so we all can have our Last Mile moment that has transformed other industries.
Rusty West (pictured above, left) is president & CEO of Market Scan Information Systems, a provider of technology and analytical solutions for the automotive industry.