LEAPING INTO DIGITAL RETAIL

Digitising the experience to deliver on demand 

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This section provides an overview of the complex and integrated downstream model for the digital customer journey

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"COVID-19 has accelerated a digital trend which was already firmly in progress."

Philip Nothard - Insight and Strategy Director, Cox Automotive

What is the digital customer journey?

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Digitisation, e-commerce and the end-to-end customer journey 

Much has been written in recent years about the shift from a service economy to the experience economy; a move which has seen organisations focus on the way in which the customer accesses their services, rather than the service itself. Indeed, the original advocates of the experience economy model, Pine and Gilmore, talk of four key focal points on the experiential journey: Education, Escapism, Entertainment and Esthetics.

When organisations create the digital customer experience, they should be thinking about how to meet all four elements – providing information, aspiration and diversion or distraction, humour or fantasy, and something which draws on all the senses. Appealing to the 4Es, many automotive organisations create immersive advertising experiences and use storytelling to capture the imaginations of prospective buyers. The showroom is an extension of the storytelling environment.

With the experience beginning the very first moment a consumer considers purchasing or financing a vehicle and running all the way through to disposing of that vehicle after its useful life, there are hundreds if not thousands of potential touchpoints along the way. Manufacturers, dealers, and the aftermarket have significant opportunity to create resonance with the consumer, offering an experience which is seamless, integrated, personalised and multi-channel.

As digital becomes ever more important within that customer experience journey, the automotive sector is looking to best practice within hospitality, retail, leisure and more, to create opportunities to engage with consumers on their terms. The merging of the experience and subscription economies creates a demand for increasingly personalised and bespoke customer journeys, which allow the individual to move seamlessly between platforms, devices, and the physical retail environment. Effective data sharing and integration is more important in this world of e-commerce than ever before.

"As a global provider of end-to-end digital retail and marketing services to automotive manufacturers, it comes as no surprise to us that digital transformation has been accelerated in recent months. Indeed, even without the sharp shock of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we were already working closely with OEMs to evolve their customer engagement strategy.   
The future of automotive retailing depends on delivering short-term business success on the base of real-time consumer insight and data trends while also strengthening long-term strategic positions through demand forecasting and investing in the customer journey."

Didier Van Bouwel, Chief Operating Officer, Modix

What is the digital customer journey?

Image: Think with Google 

The digital customer journey outlines the steps a consumer takes from initial consideration through to purchase or lease. Thinking about Google’s concept of micro-moments, those points in which consumers make decisions, research from 2016 suggested the journey could feature at least 900 such separate interactions. These micro-moments, or interactions, can include searches, website visits, video views, social clicks and more. Four years on, and the landscape is even more complex.