Car Dealers Turn to Omnichannel Platform to Boost Sales Productivity

Car Dealers Turn to Omnichannel Platform

Automotive retailer Group 1 Automotive has increased the productivity of its sales team by 20% by deploying an omnichannel digital retailing platform, company executives said Thursday (Feb. 10) during a quarterly earnings call.

The platform, which is called AcceleRide, is used for both digital selling and in-person deals. It enables members of the sales team and customers to digitally locate vehicles, structure deals, complete credit applications and perform other tasks.

It has been implemented at the existing locations of Group 1 Automotive and will soon be added to some locations in the Northeastern U.S. it acquired late last year. The automotive retailer has 147 dealerships in the U.S. and 55 in the U.K.; it recently sold its stores in Brazil.

“For context on productivity, our legacy Group 1 dealerships sold over 20% more vehicles per salesperson in December than our newly acquired Northeast dealerships, which were not on AcceleRide at the time,” Daryl Kenningham, president of U.S. and Brazilian Operations at Group 1 Automotive, said during the call. “We’ve launched AcceleRide in the new dealerships in mid-January, and we anticipate seeing an uptick in productivity over the coming months.”

Electronic Payments Is a Key Differentiator

In a presentation that accompanied the earnings call, Group 1 Automotive reported that AcceleRide allows for a materially lower cost structure and that customers using the platform close at a significantly higher rate than non-digital customers.

For the selling of cars, the platform displays inventory, offers online financing, integrates vehicle trades, and calculates all taxes and fees upfront. It also enables customers to reserve a vehicle or make down payments with a credit card.

Steps in the buying process completed by the consumer online are visible to dealership staff, so the customer can transition to in-store shopping without having to repeat those steps.

For Group 1 Automotive’s purchasing of used cars, AcceleRide provides a cash offer to sellers within 30 minutes during business hours and offers payment within one hour. The company uses Zelle to enable real-time electronic payment to customers selling their used vehicle through the platform.

“In 2021, we digitally paid 2,500 customers through Zelle for the purchase of their used vehicles,” Kenningham said. “The ability to provide electronic payments to customers in under an hour is a key differentiator for us.”

More Advances, Efficiencies and Growth Expected

For the servicing of customers’ vehicles, AcceleRide offers online scheduling. The company also offers customers easy online booking, status updates and access via dealership apps.

“We expect to see more advances, efficiencies and growth with AcceleRide as 2022 unfolds,” Kenningham said.

In addition to deploying AcceleRide at its newly acquired stores in the Northeast as it began doing in mid-January, Group 1 Automotive intends to continue driving efficiencies at its other stores by using the platform.

In the presentation, the company reported that it is in the final stages of making it so that data is shared between its retailing software, customer relationship management (CRM) system and document management system (DMS). The company said it expects this to be live in all dealerships, with the ability to electronically push deal details and documents between those systems, during the first quarter of 2022.

“I think the more digital adoption there is by customers and inside our stores, the better that is for productivity,” Kenningham said.