Lots of vehicles, lots of tires: this is how commercial fleets could be described. It is a fact that the silver medal on a hypothetical podium of the major fleet expenses goes to fuel costs (the gold medal goes to salaries), which are notoriously linked to tire pressure
We are well aware that during the various lockdowns caused by the pandemic, online shopping soared to new records. The tragic Covid-19-driven contingency, however, has only emphasized a trend that was already evident, and that is to consider the Internet as an important purchasing channel. Currently, the prevailing tendency is to visit several websites before making a purchase in a "physical" store, such as at the tire shop. The multiple lockdowns have pushed many consumers toward online buying, and tires and tire-related services were no exception. The pandemic has increased the pool of digital buyers, and it is likely that these new consumers will continue to use the internet even after the pandemic is over. E-commerce is therefore increasingly a staple in consumer behaviour, and this should drive aftermarket players to adopt digital channels - or strengthen those already in place - to attract customers and strengthen their business.
The digital divide
We live in a digital age in which 80% of consumers use multiple devices – desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. If a website or ecommerce portal fails to load in seconds or isn't responsive, adapting well to smaller displays, most consumers will quickly turn elsewhere. Consumer research shows that a fast, highly visible and easy to use website is a prerequisite for making a purchase. But the website is now only one of the channels used by potential and real customers to communicate with companies. In fact, a survey by TCS Technologies, a provider of management and e-commerce solutions for tire repairers and dealers/wholesalers, found that 90 percent of consumers demand multiple options to communicate on-and-offline with dealers and service centres. Text messages, including WhatsApp messages, are preferred, followed by phone calls and emails. A quick response from the vendor is critical because it is not uncommon for consumers to communicate with multiple companies at once, so the quickest to respond gains the advantage.
Consider the time factor, attract customers
Another study, conducted by Pied Piper, measured how efficiently retailers respond to leads, i.e., those who have requested information online perhaps by filling out a form with their information. One of the results was that half of the consumers who contacted a seller through a digital channel were still waiting for a response after 24 hours. This is far too long, considering that phone calls have a much faster response rate. Furthermore, the ease with which prices and terms can be compared online also raises another issue for tire dealers and retailers. In fact, the TCS survey found that as many as 45% of online users consult 7 to 10 websites to identify the best brands and services before buying. Therefore, companies need to capture consumers' attention early in the search process if they hope to establish a lasting contact that is more likely to lead to a sale.
Digital services also in the "physical" store
A high-performance, user-friendly website strengthens a dealership's presence online. This, combined with well-thought advertising campaigns (social networks, for example, offer sophisticated tools for targeted advertising) can generate contacts and offer sales opportunities. An informative section with updated content optimized for search engines and a website that loads quickly allows you to appear on the first pages of Internet searches, an excellent support for creating many online contacts. But the Internet of Things is also beneficial within high street stores. We're referring, for example, to the digital tire inspections previously discussed on Pneurama. Being natively digital, such platforms are faster and appears more authoritative as they are more objective and quicker to send the report to the customer via e-mail or smartphone, a clear progress compared to paper forms. A diagram or image is instantly readable and can quickly show the need for repairs and replacements, allowing the tire shop to propose its services.
Tires on the…TV!
The tire retailer also has another means of engaging the customer in the store: digital signage. This involves using TVs or monitors as dynamic advertising signs, following widely used methods, for example, in shopping malls, train stations and airports. Dedicated monitors can be placed in acceptance areas or waiting rooms. Once the right arrangement has been found, these "digital billboards" can be used in many ways, displaying monthly promotions, work performed (rotations, seasonal tire changes, etc.), special offers, list of services and affiliations, coupons, discounts and warranty extensions. The ability to create a real schedule allows the dealer to insert scrolling news, with local information and competition results, perhaps from popular motor sports. We know that corporate websites - and tire shop websites are no exception - should also have an informative function, through blogs designed to give relevant and interesting information to the visitors. Digital signs are perfect for conveying such content in the physical store as well as on the web. You could highlight the benefits - for safety, comfort and fuel consumption – a new tire provide or promote preventive maintenance. A monitor can display customer service information, opening hours and FAQs, as well as commercials. Nowadays it is not difficult to implement such features: there are now several companies that offer this service with dedicated software - which can also integrate corporate social networks - for a reasonable monthly fee which includes the storage of online content. For viewing, an Internet connection is obviously required, which is now essential for any workshop, as well as a Smart TV: viewing can then begin. It is also possible to use a monitor or a normal TV by connecting a TV Box, i.e. a minicomputer with a visualization program.
Internet of Things, the new frontier
So-called "connected" customers can receive, via smartphones, PCs and the like, messages, promotions and communications from the tire store. But we can already see a new world taking shape, one made of objects connected to each other, and to the web, through the Internet of things. We know that tire manufacturers are already proposing connected tires that are able to communicate with the web, and the trend can only increase. New cars are all natively connected to the internet in order to facilitate the implementation of devices such as the automatic emergency eCall. These cars send a constant stream of data, and one would be entitled to think that this information is of great interest to a garage or tire shop, for example if the pressure of a tire is low or the temperature is too high. In such cases, a notification could be sent to the drivers warning them of the anomaly and suggesting that they waste no time in booking an inspection. These scenarios are already in place, for example in commercial vehicle fleets, and will extend to all other drivers. To take advantage of these opportunities, however, it is necessary to be familiar with the web and digital marketing: fortunately, it's never too late to learn!