Digital Retailing, Fixed Ops and ‘Last Mile’ Delivery

Car dealers have always used “runners,” but perhaps the accelerated growth in digital retailing and “door to door” vehicle service requires a more scalable program and process.

John Possumato

October 4, 2021

3 Min Read
DRAIVER screens
DRAIVER can facilitate digital retailing, fixed ops concierge pick-up and delivery.

It’s no secret the pandemic sparked what I called the “accelerated evolution” of digital retailing and “door to door” pick-up and delivery for customer vehicles both for sales and fixed ops.

Indeed, a plethora of third-party software platforms are available for dealers to choose from, to implement the sale of new and used vehicles online, and to schedule service appointments both onsite and remote.

Note, however, that Amazon, always the example of customer-focused convenience, earned its competitive advantage not only from quick and easy online transactions but also in how quickly and conveniently goods arrived at the customer’s doorstep.

In dealership e-commerce, convenient “last mile” delivery is critically important in digital sales or service appointments. The fact is, no matter how easy or how many folks like the online process, if there are delivery bottlenecks, customer dissatisfaction (and even migration away) is a given.

Automotive Retailer “Last Mile” Solutions, Past and Present

Since the dawn of time, or at least since I started in the business (which some days seems like the same thing), dealers always have had a handful of “runners” or porters to deliver or pick up vehicles. And what dealer hasn’t enlisted sales folks or service folks to get cars to and from a location in a pinch?

Now, however, with digital retailing becoming ready to scale from a technology perspective, and service pick-up and delivery quickly becoming a new “must-have” just to stay competitive, how many dealers are really prepared for volume last mile delivery scenarios?

As a sign of the times, though not yet as visible as digital retailing service providers, there are third-party services specializing in the last mile delivery of vehicles as well as parts and packages. A whole new industry is evolving to satisfy vehicle delivery needs, such as DRAIVER (cars, light- and heavy-duty trucks, people, packages), RedCap (cars, light-duty trucks), DNS (cars, light-duty trucks) and Roadie (parts and packages).

New Needs Give Rise to New AI Solutions

One company of note that caught my attention is DRAIVER and its unique AI platform, as it provides both the standard “delivery and driver” package and, at its core, proprietary AI-driven route planning, scheduling and trip grouping technology to any dealer that wants to use their own crew of drivers, DRAIVER contract drivers or a mix of both. In any combination, the benefits to dealers planning to scale up both digital retailing and fixed ops concierge pick-up and delivery, seem evident.

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Accessing third-party delivery services or even coordinating software is in the early stage for dealers, as most are just doing a small amount of fully digital sales that require delivery and have various other means to pick up and deliver vehicles in fixed operations.

However, as one dealer told me just recently, “I’m in this not for the small number of fully digital sales I’m doing today, but for the foreseeable growth in this area in the future, and for that I need to be able to scale the delivery side efficiently.”

Clearly, if fully digital transactions grow to the level anticipated, dealers need to look at how to grow the delivery side, one way or another.

John F. Possumato (pictured above, left) is an attorney and founder and CEO of DriveItAway, which creates platforms and applications enabling automotive retailers to offer new app-enabled mobility options, including remote rental and rent-to-purchase.

 

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