Customer touch points throughout the automotive sales cycle are prime candidates for IoT innovation. Across the board, the data driven from these IoT applications have the capability to provide insights and actionable outcomes which can significantly improve the customer experience.
When a customer arrives at a dealership, it may be difficult for the dealer to know if they have what the customer is looking for. For instance, a customer might be coming in to see a particular vehicle, test drive a car they’ve already seen, or to casually browse their options. Without any data behavior on the customer beforehand, sales personnel or the dealership may not be properly equipped to handle the customer's request. Perhaps a requested car is no longer on the main show floor for immediate display but instead buried somewhere in a back lot. Maybe another car that was requested for a test drive may not yet be properly serviced for operation. These are only a few of the challenges associated with automotive sales that IoT is capable of helping to improve.
IoT can enhance the sales experience by giving users on-hand knowledge to respond quickly to customer requests. For instance, adding sensors that plug into the OBD port of a car can provide GPS information, battery levels, and other vehicle diagnostics. If a customer enters a dealership and requests to see a specific car, the dealership is able to use the data from the sensor to locate the exact position of the vehicle in the lot for quick retrieval. Vehicle diagnostics and providing data such as car battery and OBD codes, allows dealership staff to know ahead of time when a vehicle needs to be serviced. This ensures that vehicles are ready for a customer at a moments notice.
Check-in kiosks, via tablets at the entrance, are capable of allowing customers who have done research prior to their arrival to sign in and associate their online preferences or appointment requests to their physical visit. These systems can prompt a sales associate with information about an incoming customer’s online request or search preferences to allow them to understand exactly what the customer is interested in and anticipate their needs before the first interaction.
Connected and interactive signage are capable of providing meaningful data to customers about what’s happening in a dealership. TV-sized digital signs provide insights about vehicle information, real-time events, or special promotions. Connecting these interactive signs to the internet enable data collection on what information customers care about. This allows dealerships to adjust their content or marketing efforts to fit customer needs.
Tracking position and gathering vehicle diagnostics can be achieved through a variety of IoT form factors. Some devices can plug into the OBD port of the car, which in addition to providing GPS information, can provide details such as vehicle battery levels and problematic system diagnostic codes. Other devices sit on the steering wheel or dashboard of the car–while it may not provide as much detailed data, they allow for greater flexibility in the type of cars for which the device can be installed. These devices communicate via cellular backhaul to the cloud or via LoRaWAN gateways, which in turn, are backhauled via cellular or ethernet. The data from these devices is connected to software platforms that map the location coordinates to the dealership’s floor plans and lot maps or visualize the diagnostic information per vehicle in configurable analytics dashboards.
Check-in kiosks and interactive signage range from solutions as simple as a tablet mounted on a stand to a large touchscreen display with dedicated content management software that displays a dealership’s specific marketing or informational content. Most easily connected to the cloud via ethernet or WiFi, kiosks can integrate with online request or appointment platforms to let a customer indicate exactly what they're looking to accomplish at the dealership. Interactive displays, allowing the user to navigate through dealership services and vehicle information, provide data on customer preferences which can then be integrated into analytics tools to drive insights into consumer behavior and industry trends.
Sensors that seamlessly integrate the digital and physical experience by creating connected vehicles, connected kiosks, and signage have the potential to improve the customer experience in auto sales by empowering dealerships and customers with the data they need to make faster, more informed decisions.