The Future for Connected Automotive Retailers
Dealerware CEO Matt Carpenter envisions a future where auto dealerships look vastly different than today. He sees dealership’s establishing mobility centers that help customers solve short-term and long-term transportation needs.
These centers will expand beyond traditional car sales to provide access to OEM-branded vehicle subscription services that put drivers in vehicles for short-term use. “Maybe you need to rent a car for three days or maybe you need a vehicle because you have college students’ home for Christmas,” he says. “Maybe a customer owns two cars but needs access to a third. Dealers could offer daily, weekly or monthly access to vehicles that Dealerware connects.”
By working with OEM and dealer partners, Dealerware hopes to help satisfy demand that traditionally goes to rental car companies or car sharing operations.
Carpenter’s vision isn’t here yet. But as the company introduces the Dealerware API development platform, it creeps a little closer. Dealerware API unlocks transformative solutions for connected automotive retailers, and connects dealerships, dealer groups, OEMs, developers and ecosystem partners through powerful data connections.
“With over 200 public data endpoints and growing, Dealerware unlocks end-to-end fleet management capabilities that improve fleet operator workflows, elevate customer experiences, and reduce the number of screens required to operate vehicle fleets,” reports a press release on the new product.
“The goal of Dealerware’s new developer program is to speed up innovation in retail automotive by providing access to data that is unique to our platform,” says Carpenter. “This milestone is another step in Dealerware’s journey toward a more connected future where dealers and technology partners work together to create powerful digital tools that improve operations at the retailer level and elevate the customer experience.”
Looking Through the Same Window
Automotive retailers and technology developers can leverage Dealerware API to modify experiences within proprietary systems or benefit from powerful existing integrations between best-in-breed ecosystem partners.
Carpenter explains the average dealer operates 10 to 20 independent software solutions. With Dealerware API and integrations, dealership employees will no longer toggle back and forth between software platforms. They will access all software tools from a single dashboard, he says.
“These software tools offer a value proposition as the number of independent solutions overwhelms dealers,” he says. “Dealerware API consolidates disparate software solutions to transform dealer operations. I don’t know that we will get to where everyone looks through a single pane of glass for all things software. But I am confident that when partner companies work together, we can reduce the number of platforms used.”
Reducing software entry points will help dealers “become more efficient on the business operations, management side, and will elevate the customer experience,” he says.
Partnerships Drive Integration
A partnership with Fort Lauderdale, Florida, RedCap Technologies, a provider of dealer management services software for automotive dealerships nationwide, highlights the value proposition of Dealerware API.
“Using Dealerware API, we’ve been able to develop elegant and digitally transformative solutions for retailers who want to provide more convenience for their customers through out-of-store experiences,” says Arlen Gilbert, senior solutions tech for RedCap Technologies. “The powerful data flows and simple applications allow us to build solutions quickly.”
Speeding development efforts helps dealerships become more efficient and lets customers embark on digital journeys. Carpenter explains that fewer customers want to call dealerships to make service appointments and even fewer want to wait in line for service. With API integration, such as the RedCap integration, can seamlessly have their car picked up from their driveway and a loaner vehicle left in its place.
“With Dealerware API, we can build out products and services with our partner companies and accelerate the timeframe for doing so,” Carpenter says.
Daron Pardue, chief information officer for MDL autoMation, agrees. By integrating with Dealerware API, partners can help dealerships make memorable customer connections that benefit operations. “The powerful, yet simple, Dealerware API allowed us to create a combined solution that’s modern and customer centric for both the dealership and their customers,” he says.
Elevate the Customer Experience
Dealerware API hopes to support developers in building solutions that elevate the customer experience, Carpenter adds.
For instance, they may develop a more streamlined, contactless contracting process. When dealers integrate their appointment scheduling software with a credentialling and check-in process, they save customers time and aggravation.
Typically, when customers arrive at a dealership they must deal with multiple people. For example, when their vehicle comes in for service, a service advisor greets them then sends them to a cashier to write up a repair order. The cashier dispatches them to a fleet manager to discuss alternative transportation needs while they service the vehicle. Customers then go through a contracting and credentialling process for a loaner vehicle.
“At minimum, they are dealing with three sometimes four humans, and each has paperwork for them,” Carpenter says. “With integration, they can do everything through a single point of contact, enabled by a software platform that makes things happen without the customer knowing.”
He adds, “We can credential the customer on a mobile device, validate their driver’s license and insurance card, and we can assign them a vehicle When they arrive, they can get things done in 15 minutes instead of 45, working with one person instead of four.”
Pickup and delivery also can become more efficient. Dealerware’s fleet tracking provides real-time data on fleet status both in aggregate and at the vehicle level. Dealerware API can give retailers the future availability of vehicles with probability rankings that change dynamically, allowing them to better plan future bookings while still maintaining high vehicle utilization levels.
And because they start the customer credentialling process at scheduling, dealerships can build a customer profile prior to scheduled delivery. Further, when combined with Dealerware’s Telematics and Contract APIs, dealers know which vehicles are on lot with open contracts or which are contracted and off lot, simplifying vehicle assignment.
A centralized workflow also can enhance payment calculations. Dealers can centralize all charges within the payment flow. They can add toll, fuel and other services, and related rental charges, to the customer’s bill.
Fleet disrepair, downtime, claims processing, and missed damage on fleets represents a large expense for dealerships. Dealerware API also gives fleet operators real-time access to vehicle telemetry that they can use for compliance and violation monitoring, predictive maintenance, cost minimization, vehicle activity, and more.
The Dealerware connected car platform elevates the service experience for dealerships, dealer groups and OEMs. By automating cost recovery, improving efficiencies, and elevating the customer experience, Dealerware also allows automotive retailers to lower the cost and complexity associated with managing courtesy vehicles, retail rental, and subscription programs. All in, the Dealerware platform inches dealerships closer to Carpenter’s mobility center vision for the future.