A quarter of all UK car dealerships will be forced to sell up in 2014

London, 18 November 2013: Bluefin Solutions today has published its six predictions for the automotive industry in 2014.

"2014 will be the year of the customer" Tom Cregg, Head of Automotive Practice at Bluefin Solutions.

"The automotive industry is 127 years overdue for a major overhaul as manufactures try and get closer to customers in order to drive loyalty. We are entering a new and exciting era when consumers want to be back in the driving seat. They want to receive a personalised one-on-one experience, from the initial test drive and purchase to the service centre and beyound.  Brands that get this customer engagement right will witness higher profitability and growth than peers," added Tom.

Bluefin's predictions have been developed following numerous conversations with clients and partners including automotive manufactures and car dealerships. 

Six must-read predictions for the automotive industry in 2014

1. Car dealerships continue to sell-up:  As many as a quarter of all small and medium sized car dealerships across the United Kingdom will go be forced to sell-up because they were unable to generate the revenue to sustain needed investment in people, systems and facilities required to get closer to customers.  There will be a considerable number of jobs to be lost as groups swoop to increase their network and cherry pick the most attractive brands.

2. Stealing ideas from retailers:  Car manufacturers will significantly focus on training and development to deliver an Apple Store-like customer experience in traditionally underfunded service centres.  In addition they will employ an ever greater number of specialist vendors to help train retailers on lead and experience management.  This strategic shift from pre- to post-sales activity is seen as a driver to winning the customer next time they come to change their car supported by a host of new models, finance offerings and frugal engines. 

3. Customer loyalty is the only game: Customer relationship management meets big data and sentiment analysis will dominate board rooms discussions as both manufacturers and car dealerships become fanatical about improving customer acquisition and retention rates which currently hover around 20% and 40% respectively, for the industry, according to Bluefin Solutions.

4. Re-tooling systems and capabilities for growth: Car manufacturers ramp up investment in existing CRM systems, trying to account for consumer interaction via social media and the internet.  What they do with this data will be interesting as  retailers still hold the key to making the sale.  More lifecycle based offers are expected so that manufacturers can stem the flow of customers away from dealership when the warranty expires or their lease matures.

5. Start your mergers and acquisitions: The automotive industry will start to witness new forms of strategic partnerships as car manufacturers race to engage consumers.  As the economy recovers, technology start-ups will, in particular, be the first targets as internal IT organisations have the budget to acquire technical knowledge and capabilities to support enterprise-wide customer-centric transformation projects.

6. An Omni-channel view of the customer: Tried and tested retail technologies such as real-time analytics and in-store mobile devices will start to become standard kit for sales and marketing organisations at manufacturers and car dealerships.  New levels of insight will enable decision-makers to create a near perfect single view of the customer across offline and offline channels.   All it needs is this data to be connected from disparate sources of internal and external information. 


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