Frost & Sullivan research indicates that top dealer groups in Europe and North America believe in adopting a more integral approach rather than supporting a variety of separate add-on systems. Automotive retail is shifting from a product-driven approach to a customer-centric approach, and accommodating changing customer expectations have become crucial for dealers. However, dealerships are struggling to capture fine customer data through multiple online retail channels, to ensure that information is actionable, and to achieve a centralized view of customers across all stores. With Europe permitting the use of direct distribution channels, OEMs are replacing conventional dealerships with virtual showrooms. As a result, OEMs are divesting offline dealerships to independent dealer groups in Europe.
Automotive CRM’s competitive landscape is evolving, with DMS providers entering the market and intensifying competition. Third-party CRM vendors are expected to become acquisition targets to major DMS providers. DMS vendors will offer integrated solutions with built-in CRM capabilities, thereby eliminating third-party contracts for customers.
DMS providers lack advanced CRM capabilities and are, hence, acquiring small CRM vendors to realize profitable business opportunities in the market. For example, CDK Global acquired ELEAD1ONE to strengthen CRM capabilities and expand its client base in the United States. Third-party CRM vendors are offering flexible integration interfaces to ensure that dealers connect to DMS systems seamlessly. It is essential that CRM and DMS providers work hand-in-hand to survive in the industry and for dealers to realize business profits. Dealerships/OEMs that establish a well-defined omni-channel strategy are likely to attract more customers, build trusted relationships, and transform the overall customer experience, thereby enabling higher profit margins in sales and aftersales.
Automotive dealerships will always be the primary consumers of CRM. DMS vendors are integrating CRM into their packages and offering end-to-end dealer solutions to maximise business profitability for dealerships. Although CRM vendors offer an integrated suite of services, they have to primarily work hand-in-hand with DMS vendors for dealerships and to realise business profitability. Large dealerships with DMS service providers are primarily under contract programs. In 2018, web-based solutions gained prominence with small dealerships with 1 or 2 rooftops across North America. Large dealerships will involve a long transition and security concerns when it comes to full cloud adoption and, hence, will remain sceptical towards cloud CRM until 2025.