What does AutoMobility mean? At Sitecore, we’re seeing a trend – the boundaries between car manufacturers and service providers are starting to blend together. Established business models, such as car sharing, are positioning themselves in the market with new innovative service offerings and are growing continuously. If you look at mobility in the context of the automotive industry, not only do the boundaries merge, but so do the terminologies.
The mobility sector encompasses not only cars, but also a wide range of other means of transportation. This diversity offers great potential for the entire AutoMobility market, as all companies can learn from each other. The industry is constantly evolving, and it is important to look beyond one's own nose and observe developments. We are all, no matter what industry and on which continent of the world, in an uncertain, extremely agile time. This applies equally to automotive manufacturers and suppliers.
How can we satisfy consumers, or even inspire them?
Today's consumers expect an uncomplicated and personal approach. Only if we can offer consumers a memorable experience and delight then will they make the final click to buy, increase the conversion rate during the customer journey, and ultimately maintain loyalty for many years. According to a study by PwC, 32% of all consumers would not do business with a brand again after a bad experience. It is important to seek continuous dialog with consumers, invite them to give feedback, share their opinions and experiences, and use the insights to constantly improve the customer experience. Only in this way can customer experience management make sense and result in better customer satisfaction and economic growth in the long term.
The focus must be on consumers and their personal interests. Not just tomorrow, but today. There are examples from the automotive industry, such as Tesla, which offer their consumers a consistent experience from the first click on the website until long after the purchase has been completed. This is made possible by the targeted use of customer data and permanent optimization of these experiences.
The benchmark is set and constantly evolving. How can other companies in the industry catch up or overtake while equally serving other trends such as new business models, partner ecosystems, and “connected vehicles”?
For the automotive industry, Boston Consulting Group's article on pandemic-influenced buying behavior reports, “Shift to online sales offers automakers and dealers the opportunity to collect more data and develop a better understanding of consumer behavior.”
The trend of customer-centricity can also be found in other industries such as healthcare and manufacturing. In addition to the traditional B2B business, they are gradually opening up B2C as a further sales channel. A personal approach, unique experiences and offers for consumers increase sales in addition to the classic B2B business (to cue: Direct2Consumer).
What are the challenges facing the AutoMobility industry?
One topic that has an evolutionary character is the implications of the restructuring of the automotive sector. Comprehensive and rapid, there have been and are far-reaching consequences in the value chain. Recently, the press reported that entire production lines had to be shut down due to the pandemic because suppliers were unable to deliver chips on time. The consequences in terms of delivery bottlenecks, customer dissatisfaction, and a drop in sales are enormous.
Elementary structures are changing – and may need to adapt even faster to ensure the industry can meet new demands in the coming years. Attracting the next generation of consumers – without losing existing customers, changing buying behavior, new innovations, and sustainability are some to name just a few, in addition to the topics already mentioned. Specifically, in the area of new innovations, it is worth noting that there is currently only one automotive manufacturer listed in the world’s most innovative companies.
Anyone who wanted to buy a new car during the pandemic had to ask themselves, “How or when and where can I take a test drive?” The virtual test drive was quickly established by a few automakers. And while this concept was most likely already in development, it had to be rushed into implementation practically overnight.
Does the virtual test drive resonate with consumers, across all age groups? Does the younger generation still value a real test drive? Together with Publicis Sapient and Microsoft, we have published the "Automotive Customer Report 2021" on these and other questions.
The pace of changes has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again
How to successfully put the consumer first
To achieve your company's business strategies and goals, you need a vision and full support from executive management. Question your processes and the teams involved. Not to save on personnel costs, but to find out if the different teams and departments are working together optimally. Make sure everyone in the team head towards a common goal.
Finding the best vendor is crucial. Technology vendors continue to evolve and new ones are added every year. Carefully selecting a vendor is a fundamental decision for your future strategy.
Customer data is getting more important every day. Do you have all the necessary customer data and analytics at your fingertips? Especially when it comes to customer data, and with Google's announcement to stop supporting third-party cookies, you need to adjust your strategy towards "first-party data".
Last but not least, customer experience – as mentioned earlier – is playing an increasingly important role and should become a focus topic for you as well. In the future, you can only achieve outstanding and relevant customer experiences with first-hand data from your consumers and their behavior. Leading companies are already using technologies that help them collect, analyze and take advantage of this data – a Customer Data Platform (CDP).
As soon as the data basis is available and continues to grow, you can immediately implement personalization, optimization, A/B tests and the "next best action". This allows you to achieve your goals and KPIs in the shortest possible time and convince your executive management with your strategy. Start small and grow with each new “user experience”. Only sustained optimization will bring you growing success and satisfied consumers.
Which approach is the right one and what are the benefits?
You need to ask yourself these and other questions if you want to reach the next level in your digital maturity. Offering your customers, a consistent and memorable journey doesn't happen overnight. You need to bring together the right technologies with the right data and agile processes to create a great whole.
As a marketer, you are the composer and conductor, tasked with balancing all the individual disciplines needed to succeed. Compose the best marketing technologies for you. Sitecore’s composable DXP gives you the freedom to combine functional capabilities from a single source and integrate technologies across vendors where it makes sense. Today's DXP solutions must be "Good Neighbors" in your solution environment. Technology must serve business success, not the other way around.
Thomas Obermeier is Senior Value Engineer at Sitecore. Connect with him on LinkedIn