I can remember when we were launching Lexus in 1989 and the new dealers would ask, “what used cars should I stock in my new store?”
Back when we built Driver’s Mart Used Car Superstores we designed a kiosk with key cards and sophisticated gates so we could tell which cars people wanted, whether our inventory was priced accurately, and how the sales associates were performing. I can remember sitting with General Managers and Used Car Managers at 20 Groups and talking with envy about the CarMax inventory software that helped them know what to buy and how to price it.
How much money have we all spent on various pieces of used car software that was supposed to give us “all the answers?”
Today, when you look at what is being done with Big Data, it is finally possible to know the answers to many of our age old questions. The same data that can tell you who to serve, what to do with what product, which site to use at what time, can tell you what that person is likely to buy, when and even why.
I have been advising a company called Vast for the last 2 years that scans 27M cars every day and sees more than 100MM vehicle searches across 400+ different web sites. We together have built the most powerful Big Data application for sales associates – CarStory. Working with their Chief Scientist & analytics experts has been really enlightening.
The data can tell you the kinds of things we all used to say…”if only I knew…”
- Which cars, if advertised, will get the most calls or leads?
- What specific attribute of a specific car is the reason someone will buy? What should I say in that ad to get the phone to ring?
- How many days it is likely to take to sell a vehicle at a certain price? How many visits, calls, or demos can I expect?
- Which sales associate is the best one to present a specific vehicle to a specific customer?
- Which alternative vehicles should show to a specific customer based on his or her reaction to the last vehicle shown or driven?
…and so much more…
You don’t need gates anymore. You don’t need to track demos on a log. You don’t need 2/3 of what your inventory software does. All you need to do is welcome Big Data into the shopping process.
You see, not only does it help your associate and your customer, but it captures the whole shopping experience and that is where the information comes from. Then you must have the courage to trust the data. It gets more effective the more you have and the more its used. The payoff will amaze you.
If you are, HOW are you welcoming Big Data in the shopping process?