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The Cloud-Powered Revolution of Automotive Retail

As outlined in our most recent series of Insights papers, the influence of the modern customer means that perfecting the customer experience (CX) is vital1,2. Demands are shifting across the board, with consumers becoming accustomed to the experiences they enjoy with CX leaders like Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify. As a result, retailers need to adopt new strategies to ensure they are not left behind. Personalisation has emerged as a significant differentiator for forward-thinking retailers, but while it is a common goal across the industry, only 15% of today's companies are true personalisation pioneers3.

This is compounded by the fact that the world of retail is becoming more complex, as the myriad choices afforded by technological advances enable customers to start and end their purchase journeys across various different touchpoints. Gone are the days when a customer would conduct the awareness, consideration, and conversion stages within the brick and mortar store. Increasingly, customers are starting online - be that on mobile, PC, or tablet - with the store itself playing a smaller role4. This is especially the case in the automotive industry, where modern cloud-powered configurators enable customers to configure their cars in the same quality on any connected device.

As a result, dealers need a unified end-to-end purchase journey which tracks, analyses, and transfers data from all stages, enabling them to create a consistent and coherent CX for their customers. The unique opportunities afforded by cloud technology can make this a reality.

With the cloud, the sky is the limit

As discussed in our earlier papers, the cloud enables digital retailers to avoid the limitations of local processing power and display complex software on any device. While this is vitally important in achieving the interactivity and scale required in the modern marketplace, it is just one manifestation of the cloud's potential. It can also be harnessed to integrate each touchpoint into one cohesive system and support the transfer and remote storage of data.

This will ensure that a customer is able to load their configurations on mobile, PC, and in-store, regardless of where they started the process. An intelligent system will also collect and analyse data pertaining to interactions at each stage to enable retailers to make educated conclusions and product recommendations.

The Intelligent Car Configurator (ICC) is one such system. Using the cloud-powered interconnectivity of the ICC, a dealer can load their customer's configuration across multiple different mediums including AR, VR, and 4K screens. Customers could therefore configure their car online or in-store before utilising these mediums to explore their new car in ways that are simply not possible via traditional means.

These systems could, in fact, help counteract the dramatic reduction in dealership visits, which have fallen from an average of 5 to 1 per purchase5. This is evidenced by recent research which found that 90% of European car-buyers expect to be able to see, design, and configure their car before purchase, with 82% wanting to do so using AR/VR and 65% confirming that this would encourage them to visit the dealership6.

Dealers can also use cloud-powered platforms like SpotLight to ensure that this significantly enhanced CX is maintained throughout all stages of the purchase journey. SpotLight's content creation apps bring the benefits of online personalisation to 1-1 conversations. Using OEM-approved templates within SpotLight to generate bespoke pictures, videos, 360⁰ images, and even brochures and microsites, the dealer is able to ensure this CX continues long after the customer leaves the dealership. What's more, the inclusion of pre-approved templates and camera sequences ensures that the dealer is able to freely create content without the costly delay of seeking OEM approval.

With this high-quality sharable content, the dealer will also be able to significantly impact the opinions of the influencers around the customer, enabling them to tap into peer recommendations. The importance of this cannot be overstated as they are a huge influence on customers' purchase decisions. A decisive 92% of customers trust recommendations from others7, with 69% highlighting the opinions of their friends and family as important in their decisions8.

Such a platform, then, stands to fundamentally reshape the landscape of automotive retail by giving dealers the tools they need to revolutionise the CX whilst reducing their dependency on high infrastructure investment.


  1. ZeroLight 1
  2. ZeroLight 2
  3. BCG
  4. McKinsey 1
  5. McKinsey 2
  6. ZeroLight 3
  7. Adweek
  8. Marketing Charts