AutoTrader.com developing beacons to engage car buyers at dealers
NEW YORK – An AutoTrader.com executive at the sixth annual Mobile Marketing Day conference revealed that the automotive site is planning a future in beacons at various dealerships to engage with car buyers.
During the session, “Reinventing Consumer Experience: Lessons While Transforming an $18 Automotive Shopping Brand,” the executive said that although the beacon program is in the introduction phase, AutoTrader.com believes that this will be the best way to reach its consumers bringing together all three groups the Web site works with.
“We bring together three different groups,” said Marc Acosta, director of mobile at AutoTrader.com, Atlanta, Georgia. “Consumers that are shopping for a car or want to sell their car, dealers, we have inventory from over 20,000 dealers on our site and our mobile channels and also OEMs like Ford, Toyota, GM, they’re providing advertisement.
“Dealers and OEM also provide discounts and specials that they have going on. Having all these three groups on our channels at the same time makes our business very complex,” he said. “We need to make sure that we are providing a good experience for all of them,”
Mobile Marketing Day is a Mobile Marketer event jointly hosted with the Direct Marketing Association.
Foraying into beacons
AutoTrader plans to use beacons in numerous ways. This technology can collect information that is useful to the Web site as well as dealers and OEMs.
These beacons will be able to determine where a user is and how they are interacting while searching for a car. It will show the amount of time they are at different locations of a dealership, how far they are willing to travel and other information that will be useful to the dealers and AutoTrader.com.
They will analyze this data and provide feedback on how to best move forward.
The future beacons will also provide an enhanced experience for the user.
Certain vehicles at dealer lots will have beacons located near them and while on the lot consumers can access information about it such as videos, price, features and other details.
“Right now I see this for only a few vehicles but as beacon technologies get better I see a world where we will go to the lot and I don’t need to talk to a lot of people,” Mr. Acosta said. “I can go to a car with my phone and I should be able to unlock the car, get in, see a video, see the features, calculate what my trade-in value is going to be, as a consumer I should have all the information that I need to start talking about the transaction.
“It’s going to take a while for us to be able to scale beacons to a point where we can have a beacon next to each one of these cars but it will get there eventually as the technology improves, in my opinion,” he said.
For AutoTrader.com, it is important to develop a seamless cross-platform experience. Research has shown that usage of each individual platform was increasing however its overall performance was not ideal.
The company then focused on the best way to reach customers on the lot and at their homes. By focusing each division of the business together a unification of mobile and web was created.
Now consumers can save a few of their favorite vehicles on the AutoTrader.com Web site, then later access the app on their tablet or smartphone. It will let the user know which dealerships near them have those vehicles. Comparisons, deals, reviews, details and even the trade value can all be viewed through the app or Web site.
Mr. Acosta believes that with the introduction of beacons this greater consumer experience can only increase. However, this involves the cooperation and considerable communication with dealerships.
“We truly need to have a conversation with the dealer and show them the value of embracing this type of technology,” Mr. Acosta said. “That’s another party that we need to partner with and truly show the value that this is going to bring to the table.”
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York