Archive for June, 2013

Service Apps: The Auto Retail App

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Ask some dealers about mobile apps and they’ll talk to you about  ‘Angry Birds’ or ‘Words With Friends’.  Other dealers agree that there’s some shopping going on with mobile apps, mostly through E-Tailers like or Groupon. But in actuality, it’s the traditional brick and mortar retailers who are changing the entire landscape of mobile app operation.

Traditional brick and mortar retailers like dealerships, Home Depot, and Macy’s may not have been the first to seize mobile app adoption, but now they’re not only seizing it, they’re shaking it by the throat. In just one year, from December 2011 to December 2012, consumer time spent in retailer apps (versus E-Tailer, daily deal, and other shopping apps) has exploded by 525 percent, according to Flurry Analytics.

Retailers are joining the mobile app revolution in droves and have located a gold mine with in the tectonic shift of online meeting offline shopping, through mobile apps.

E-Tailers (like Amazon and eBay) paved the road, offering the consumer an always-on shopping experience, but retailers (like Walmart and Staples) have perfected it, combining the search and purchase process online with the instant gratification of same day delivery or pick up offline at a near by store location.

“The enormous growth in retailer app share has come largely at the expense of Daily Deals, down in share from 20% in 2011 to 13% in 2012, and Online Marketplace apps, which contracted from 25% in 2011 to 20% in 2012,” reports Flurry.

Retailers have done it; they’ve brought us even closer to the customer than the E-Tailer, eliminating the factor of time. Talk about taking advantage of an always on – always connected audience!

So how do retail apps relate to your dealership, you ask? The future of automotive retail is found in the mobile app. Because it is always with you, always on, always connected, the consumer is empowered to purchase automotive-related goods and services wherever the customer happens to be at the time, often on impulse.

Service is a dealer’s profit lifeline, and a smart dealer app can become the best service-appointment-driving and retention weapon a dealer has ever used.

A dealership app can help people manage their car (likely the second-largest purchase of their life), whether it’s helping them keep track of (and book service for) their entire “family fleet,” or using a suite of useful tools that make their everyday “car and driving life” easier.

Forty nine percent of a dealership’s service customers now use mobile apps, and two in three of a dealership’s current service customers are turning to mobile apps daily, but only 13% have an app from a dealership or auto service provider, according to a DMEautomotive consumer survey.

With this roughly 4:1 consumer behavior disconnect, dealerships that embrace an app now will grab the early advantage.

Dealers need to build now for the future. They need to get a great app. They need to start driving thousands of downloads. They need to focus on designing new, in-store processes for the mobile customer. So, in a year from now they’ll have an app that creates incredible value for their customers and a receptive new database of always-connected owners to which they can market.

To learn more about the benefits of running a mobile app in your store go to and download a free copy of The Pocket Revolution: The Complete Guide to a Killer Mobile App, or purchase one online at



There’s No Need to Fight – Customers Want Mobile Apps from Both OEMs and Dealers

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Dealers and OEMs alike have embraced the overwhelming consumer demand for mobile apps – making apps an important part of their respective retention, communication, marketing, and sales efforts. But does the market need a mobile app from both parties? Isn’t one app either from the dealer, or from the OEM all that’s needed by the customer? The truth is there’s actually a certain need for both OEM and dealer branded mobile apps in the market.

So let’s start with why this is true. On average consumers have 67 apps on their smartphone, up 209% since 2011. This demonstrates a growing consumer appetite to have multiple apps on their device, each being the right tool for a very specific job – it’s not a one app fits all scenario.

OEMs need an app to promote their brand and add functional value to their vehicles, gaining and retaining brand loyal customers. They interact with the vehicle in nearly magical ways with API integration, as well as offer OEM provided services like 24 hour roadside assistance, substantially improving the ownership experience. But, for all the good the OEM app does in improving the ownership experience, enriching the relationship between a dealer and their customer is not the mission of the OEM app. For example, an OEM app will typically show the consumer in need of service all nearby dealerships, regardless of where the consumer bought or services their vehicle.

Dealers need an app that focuses on their specific business needs, expanding the customer relationship in new and profitable ways – improving customer retention, reminding them that service is needed for their car, that the dealer’s store is nearby and that the dealer is even offering coupons and discounts to service or buy at their store!

A dealership app must focus on bringing every day value to the customer through features and tools that make the relationship with the dealer super easy for the customer, like real time vehicle is ready for pick up notifications. These features will keep the customer coming back to the app – but more importantly to the dealership.

OEM and dealer apps simply serve different purposes.

And there are some really cool “next wave” features coming that will continue to make the dealership app an indispensable customer service and retention tool. Dealers, make sure to talk to your app vendor to make sure these features are included on your product roadmap.

The technology to better “socialize” dealer branded apps for the customer is rapidly becoming available, allowing app providers to add functions like Apple Passbook integration for storage of the dealer’s coupons and discounts, enabling “Chat” to talk live with the dealer’s customer service representative, and even geo-fencing to allow location based services and notifications.

So while the “one app doesn’t fit all” statement remains true, the addition of third wave features in a dealer branded mobile app will continue to set the dealer app apart from the rest.