The current retail landscape is filled with buzzwords and strategies that often address a multichannel approach — or “omnichannel,” as it is better known in the automotive industry. In past years, hundreds of press articles and collateral have been released discussing which retailers may be embracing omnichannel strategies to better ensure the success of the retailer.

For franchised auto dealers, this strategy encompasses online research, lead-gen activities, and in-showroom transactions. Having the right omnichannel strategy may be one of the most important factors in a business built on high-volume, low-margin transactions.

Online to Instore

In a parallel example to automotive, Lowe’s Companies Inc., best known for its namesake chain of home improvement and appliance stores in the United States, attributes much of its growth and success to its omnichannel approach. The company’s directors credit the integration of online and instore sales, coupled with a combination of order fulfillment, with increased earnings in the final quarter of 2017. They reported that online purchases delivered from a store saw sales growth of 33%.

Although physical dealership locations remain a vital part for automotive, the increased use and accessibility of the ecommerce platform has had a profound effect on the shift of instore processes and procedures. According to Euromonitor International, a market research firm, U.S. retail stores decreased by 0.1% in 2017 from a year earlier, the first downturn since 2009. Dealers today are grappling with consolidation and falling sales.

Physical retail stores are now embedding the same instore technology that shoppers leverage in an online environment to enhance the customer experience. Some of these advantages may include facial-recognition technology alerting the arrival of loyalty program shoppers, how-to videos, and even screen technology to show customers what they’d look like wearing new apparel.

Naturally, all these changes also mean a change to employee and back-end processes.

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