April 22, 2010

The Digital Dealer

Many blogs, tweets, wall posts and RSS feeds fill our inbox each day by social media gurus and marketing department heads discussing how mass digitization has changed the way we communicate, interact and do business. Let me fill this post with a simple, personal example.  Carfax-1

Many of us are unfortunately familiar with the daunting process of buying a new car, or worse, a used car. The crowded lots, poor financing options, lousy Car Fax reports and one too many dealers hungry for a sale, are just about enough to take. I recently had the poor luck of being able to help a close friend of mine through this experience and were quickly introduced to the negotiation process.  

The dealer placed a first offer on the table. Peering down at the table, the car salesman skeptic in me reacted. I immediately pulled out my iPhone and logged on to Kelly Blue Book. Just as I thought, offer was well over market price.  

Dealer placed offer number two on the table. Better, but not quite there. As I scrolled through Craigslist I saw that three other dealers in the area, as well as private owners, that had asking prices well below the offer.  

Dealer placed offer number three on the table. We were getting there. However, the estimated APR seemed off. After a quick text to my friend’s personal banker, we were able to get a more realistic picture.  

Perhaps it was the dealers increasing frustration, but it dawned on me that business for dealers in the automotive industry has not just changed due to the recession, but also due to the immense increase in digital technologies. They now are forced to be more transparent, more cognoscente of every dealer in the area at anytime and forced to offer added value above and beyond price.

Although my friend did not purchase the vehicle at this particular dealer, we did leave him with a tip: get a smart phone. And quick.  

How have digital technologies changed your world?

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Comments

Great blog posting. We agree with you 100%.

The time has come for auto buyers to not only be able to research online to find the vehicle of their choice, find out the history of the vehicle, but also be able to make and negotiate an offer online without all of the fear, anxiety or stress that most of us have when trying to buy a new or used vehicle.

Not only is it a great idea, it's actually available now!

The "Automated Video Negotiation" tool allows a serious car shopper to make an offer and then get immediate feedback on whether the dealer can accept their offer or not, and if not received an immediate counter offer. What makes it fun is you can make your offer at three in the morning in your underwear as all of the negotiation is being handled by professional actors using pre-recorded video!

Want to see it in action and play with it? Check it out here:

http://www.RivWorks.com/autos

As for smart phones, although you can't currently view flash on the iPhone, in the next two weeks the first iPhone application will be available.

This free iPhone application will allow a car shopper to view all of the inventory on the lot, see all the detail photos, mileage, and also allow an offer to be made on the vehicle of your choice.

Again no fear, no anxiety and no stress!

Who do you know that would rather shop for a vehicle this way?

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