CarStory announces updates to sales prediction platform

AUSTIN, Texas - 

CarStory announced Tuesday several new features now available for its recently launched sales prediction platform — CarStory Insights’ Inventory Intelligence — which enables dealers to monitor their local market.

This follows news from last month that the company partnered with FordDirect to provide Ford and Lincoln dealers with a FordDirect website CarStory Market Reports for used-vehicle insights at no charge.

Along with a responsive web Experience, the CarStory Insights platform now has features such as instant search, which allows users to quickly search by make, model, VIN or stock number; and instant Alerts, which provides dealers with notifications when a market change affects their inventory.

Current CarStory Insights customers can access the newly updated platform as a free upgrade by updating the product on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

“Today, 50 percent of a dealer’s inventory will sell too fast or too slow,” CarStory president and chief product officer Chad Bockius said in a news release. “CarStory Insights is the only product that shows how price changes affect a vehicle’s days on lot. Having this insight is key to maximizing profits and turn. The new enhancements to CarStory Insights demonstrates our commitment to innovation and incorporates months of dealer feedback delivered in an elegant and user-friendly interface,” Bockius continued.

In addition to Instant Search and Instant Alerts, new features added to CarStory Insights include:

  • Prediction Explorer
  • Deal Analysis
  • Market Pulse
  • Customized AI
  • Dealer Group Support
  • Performance Dashboard

Additionally, new CarStory Insights customers can subscribe for a free 30-day trial.

Clarivoy announces new software that matches marketing source to vehicle sales


Clarivoy announced Monday the launch of new software that uses what it calls “Any-Touch” attribution to ensure that marketing sources accurately receive credit for influencing customers during the car buying process.

When marketing sources have influenced a customer’s vehicle purchase,   the new software uses the Any-Touch attribution to guarantee that proper credit is attributed.

To show vendors’ accurate impact on vehicle sales, Clarivoy works with dealers to obtain sales data and then matches the sales file with leads and vendor website traffic, the company said.

While dealers and third-party auto vendors receive millions of unique web visitors per month — less than five percent identify themselves, according to Clarivoy chief executive officer Steve White.

“Who are the other 95 percent, and did they purchase a vehicle?” said White. “In the eyes of a dealer, the value of a third-party auto vendor, marketing agency or website provider is reduced to one thing: Leads. Since most visitors to a dealer’s website or third-party site are unidentifiable, 95 percent of the value of that vendor or marketing partner is lost.”

The new software gives dealers an understanding of the total number of vehicles each vendor and marketing source is responsible for influencing by delivering monthly attributable sales to dealers’ dashboards.

Clarivoy said the new API technology was created using proprietary technology designed to match a person to multiple devices across multiple channels.

Additionally, according to the company, set up is simple and only requires the installation of Clarivoy’s tracking code on all relevant website properties.

Roundup: SGS previews new self-inspection app at CAR; Central AA holds 12-year anniversary sale


SGS recently previewed its new self-inspection mobile application — INSPEC — at the Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR) in Las Vegas.

The INSPEC app allows the capture of specific data, such as mileage and vehicle modifications ahead of vehicle turn-in and is now being offered as a pilot, hybrid or standalone solution.

When a vehicle lease nears its end, the app provides step-by-step instructions for the lessee to perform a self-inspection.

To note any damage or level of wear and use, the app allows lessees to take photos of the exterior, interior and tires that is pushed to the lessee and finance company.

“Our inspectors are performing full remarketing inspections prior to lease maturity when a third to half of these cars are either traded in early or bought outright prior to the turn-in date,” SGS operations vice president Tony Perkins said in a news release.

“This means our customers are wasting a lot of money on an expensive remarketing inspection that isn’t needed. By providing a more consumer-friendly inspection option, we believe INSPEC will help our customers drastically increase pre-term inspection rates, replacing the number of costly in-person inspections with an affordable alternative, all while lowering the overall cost of their program, improving the lease-end experience, and increasing brand loyalty,” he continued.

Along with producing a summary of self-inspection results, the app also provides an estimated range for how much might be owed for a vehicle at turn-in.

Estimates are calculated based on a proprietary algorithm from SGS, and the inspection can be completed in less than 20 minutes, according to the company.

Key benefits the app can provide finance companies, dealers and OEMs include reduced inspection costs, increased percentage of fleet inspected and retention of key insights and actionable data.

Central AA celebrates 12 years

In other news from the used-car market, Central Auto Auction held a 12-year anniversary sale last month where it also celebrated the opening of a brand-new fourth lane that is expected to be ready later this year.

The sale brought in 366 buyers and offered around 450 units across the auction’s three lanes.

“We are very much hands-on with our consignors and buyers. We are an extension of their team; their staff essentially,” Central AA owner Peter Saldamarco said in a news release. “We have the best auction employees in the business, and with our new full-service vehicle evaluation and enhancement center, there’s nothing we can’t handle for our customers.”

Central AA held its first sale in February of 2006. Located in Hamden, Conn., the auction offers weekly sales Tuesday mornings at 10:15 a.m., and all lanes are available for online participation via simulcast.

dealerAffinity releases new lead gen platform that captures in-market leads from dealer sites


dealerAffinity introduced Wednesday its leadAffinity online lead generation platform that is designed to capture in-market leads on a dealer's website.

This follows the company’s January announcement that it has joined the expanding CDK Global Partner Program this year.

The dealerAffinity solution suite provides online trade appraisals, live web chat with text messaging and on-site auctions to help car dealers convert web visitors into leads.

With leadAffinity, dealerAffinity dealers can now allow visitors to place competing offers for vehicles directly on the dealer's website. The company said that each visitor who places an offer becomes a lead for the dealer.

“By accepting multiple offers on a single vehicle, the dealer is able to generate a constant stream of leads that are in-market for a vehicle,” dealerAffinity co-founder Aaron Haimovitz said in a news release. “Moreover, the dealer is able to keep the traffic on their website instead of sending them to third-party sites hosting competing vehicles.”

In addition to keeping visitors from navigating to third party vehicle listing sites, leadAffinity also protects dealers through a reserve pricing mechanism ensures that all offers meet a minimum threshold, the company said.

“In the digital age, car dealers should view their website as their core to their lead generation programs,” added Haimovitz. “leadAffinity ensures a steady flow of leads into the dealership, lowers website abandonment and helps dealers move aging inventory.”

2 challenges top of mind for global auto finance leaders


A new report recently released by White Clarke Group explored the most important global issues facing the auto finance industry.

Two challenges became clear when the firm reached out to top company executives.

White Clarke Group’s Global Auto and Equipment Finance Report 2018 revealed that industry executives rank digitalization as one of the most important issues on their agenda for this year.

The report indicated another key global trend that is dominating C-suite discussions is the impact of new legislation and policies, which are changing the competitive landscape for finance providers.

“Compliance and regulation sit at the heart of the finance market and the impact is being felt in every region of the world, ranging from fundamental changes to tax law in India, to new open banking rules in Europe and a more business-friendly approach to regulation in the U.S.,” White Clarke Group said.

“The industry is also having to adapt to growing risks, particularly when it comes to cyber-security and the growing complexity of defending operations from hackers, while simultaneously providing more open finance and banking services to consumers,” the firm added.

This report contains the views of more than 30 industry leaders with analysis covering North and South America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

To obtain a full analysis of the outlook for 2018, download a copy of White Clarke Group’s Global Auto and Equipment Finance Report 2018 at this website.

Dominion announces new cloud-based CRM release


Dominion Dealer Solutions introduced its new cloud-based CRM — Dominion Vision — on Monday. 

This follows the company's January release of its new DMS, Dominion VUE, which is hosted in the Microsoft Azure Cloud.

Dominion Vision is powered by CRMSuite and features both customized reporting and consumer-focused communication tools including a virtual, personal assistant, “Olivia.”

“There are many CRMs in the marketplace, but Dominion Vision is truly different. From our rich CRM legacy with AVV and Autobase, Dominion has always been committed to the dealer — using the latest technology to build simple and elegant solutions,” Dominion Dealer Solutions president Jack Ross said in a news release. “Now all of our tools, from DMS to CRM, equity mining to digital products, can work together to help car dealers sell more cars.”

By learning about customers and their preferences, Dominion Vision helps sales reps and management connect with prospects using the best possible method at the best possible time, the company said.

Dominion Vision’s virtual, personal assistant, “Olivia", is designed using machine learning to track consumer communications preferences.

This feature scans the customer database on a regular basis and communicates with prospects who have not been contacted via email, text or voicemail. Responses from customers are forwarded to the salesperson to re-initiate sales and service communication.

Additionally, Dominion Vision is available via both a tablet-friendly interface and a downloadable mobile app.

US Bank chooses AutoGravity to enhance mobile offering


U.S. Bank is now is leveraging the same technology from AutoGravity being deployed by an array of captives.

U.S. Bank recently launched a digital offering on its website that allows consumers to shop for a new vehicle and get pre-approved for financing, all before actually stepping foot in a dealership.

U.S. Bank’s digital financing platform is currently available via the U.S. Bank website for those individuals looking to buy a new vehicle through dealerships served by U.S. Bank. It will expand to the bank’s mobile app and be available to used-vehicle buyers and co-applicants in the coming months.

Working with AutoGravity, U.S Bank created a new platform on that can provide a simplified, streamlined loan application process for users that typically takes just minutes to receive an approval decision.

Potential buyers using the new U.S. Bank tool simply:

1. Pick their car and select a dealership online.

2. Apply for a pre-approval for U.S. Bank auto financing online.

3. Close the vehicle installment contract at the dealership, and drive off in their new car.

“We want our customers — both car buyers and dealerships — to have the best, most seamless experience possible,” said John Hyatt, executive vice president of consumer dealer services for U.S. Bank. “This technology helps us get the buyer in the driver’s seat sooner and brings pre-approved customers to the dealership.”

Besides saving consumers time, the new technology improves customers’ overall car-buying experience by providing them with pre-approved loan terms going into the dealership.

“Together, AutoGravity and U.S. Bank have taken the first step on a journey to revolutionize the digital car-buying experience, empowering U.S. Bank’s customers to finance their next car in minutes, anytime and anywhere they want,” said Andy Hinrichs, founder and chief executive officer of AutoGravity.

Darwin Automotive develops new algorithm designed to boost e-commerce parts sales


Darwin Automotive introduced Tuesday an exclusive Darwin Online algorithm for automotive parts solution RevolutionParts that is designed to give auto dealers a competitive edge in eommerce auto part sales.

The newly developed algorithm uses a vehicle’s VIN to find three top accessories that can be presented to consumers at checkout.

This process closely reflects that of Amazon’s when a customer checks out online, said Darwin Automotive chief executive officer Phillip Battista.

“Just like Amazon we say, ‘Hey, customers like you also bought these three things.’ It’s a highly successful form of suggestive selling,” Battista explained in a news release. “For years dealers have lamented that the accessory business is a huge hole in their world — something they cannot really take advantage of. Well now they can.”

Darwin Online interfaces with more than 142 individual product providers, according to the company.

In addition to allowing dealerships to control their profitability and disclosure, the platform provides accurate payments that match the dealership’s DMS and interacts with all dealership websites without any need for DMS integration.

“Aftermarket accessories is a huge market and most new vehicle owners will purchase accessories within 45 days. The problem is, they purchase from someone other than the selling dealer. To be successful, in the past dealers almost needed a separate accessories department and salesperson,” added Battista.

“With Darwin Online we can show that every car dealership can be its own accessories superstore without a huge effort. They have these quality factory parts in stock and just need to inform their customers at the point of purchase. For example, Darwin Online takes that new 2018 Ford Explorer purchaser and shows them that the top three suggested accessories are all-weather floor mats, running boards and a luggage rack. We suggest the best OEM parts for that customer and our dealers are seeing an incredible boost in their accessory sales,” he explained.

Using a combination of algorithms, in real-time, Darwin analyzes customers’ answers to a set of needs-discovery questions, deal information, previous ownership history and other details stored in the dealership’s DMS.

Additionally, Darwin also produces a Driver’s Needs Analysis, through predictive analytics, that scores F&I products based on the buyer’s need and the likelihood the customer will purchase those protections.

PebblePost, direct mail solution provider, appoints VP to grow auto vertical

CARY, N.C. - 

The provider of a unique marketing solution that creates personalized direct mail using real-time consumer activity — PebblePost — recently announced that it has appointed new vice president Richard Flynn to grow its automotive vertical.

In an environment where the digital age has changed how consumers are often marketed to, the company aims to combine the power of connecting online with that of direct mail through its Programmatic Direct Mail solution.

Flynn brings over 20 years of experience with the auto ad business and has held previous positions at both AOL and Sports Illustrated.

Rich is a master at understanding the customer and their business,” Pebble Post chief growth officer Geoff Dodge said in a news release announcing Flynn’s hire in January.

“His depth of knowledge of the auto vertical — having worked with Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, to name a few — is invaluable as he builds our go-to-market strategy for these marketers hungry for innovation,” he continued.

In a crowded media landscape like we see today, Flynn believes that Programmatic Direct Mail can be a changemaker for automotive business looking to reach consumers and move more metal.

He says that direct mail marketing allows dealers to pursue consumers in a way that will rise above the noise they often receive online.

Effective frequency

Now that traditional channels are not as large or arguably as effective as they used to be, Flynn suggests that when it comes to marketing on the dealer side of the auto industry a lot of noise locally can turn off consumers.

“Frequency is always a concern for dealers. How do you weigh too much versus too little in today’s marketing mix?” Flynn told Auto Remarketing by email earlier this this month.

“The challenge is heightened when you consider how many messages are out there already, every day, from search and social to display retargeting and traditional methods like direct mail. Consumers have developed an ad blocker muscle that can’t be ignored, so it’s important for dealers to remember that more isn’t always better if it leads to noise that’s easily tuned out,” he continued.

In addition to being designed to pick up on dealer website visitors and recognize whether or not an individual is an existing customer or prospect, Flynn says that PebblePost’s patent-pending digital platform provides dealers an option to connect with customers and leads that is relevant, personal and respectful.

The solution blends segmentation, campaign management, production, analytics and optimization. Its tools include: Campaign Management, Address Graph, Dynamic Production, Real-Time Analytics and Continuous Optimization and Intent Data Capture, which picks up real-time visitor signals, such as page visits, keyword searches, cart abandonment and behavioral activity.

“PebblePost’s Programmatic Direct Mail platform offers dealers a relevant, personal, and respectful way to communicate with existing customers — come back to the lot for service, e.g. — and most intriguing, connect with new prospects,” said Flynn.

The latter are potential customers already visiting the dealer’s website — driven there by some call-to-action — but the dealer doesn’t know who they are. Our Website Prospect Remarketing solution picks up on that signal. We recognize that someone is not a customer, but a prospect. Then we leverage our proprietary technology to create connections between an individual visiting a website via a cookie and where to send the mail and find their postal address,” he continued.

To inform dealers where to send the mail and find car shoppers’ postal addresses, the Address Graph tool determines the most accurate USPS-verified postal address for a segmented customer.

You have this tangible reminder in the prospect’s home urging them to visit the lot, Flynn explained.“That impression doesn’t disappear like a display ad — it picks up more eyeballs in the home as that purchase is discussed. If you think of the enormous pressure on dealers to create new business, Programmatic Direct Mail can be a real game-changer for their bottom line.”

ELEAD1ONE releases dealership app built to facilitate online car-buying process


ELEAD1ONE introduced on Monday its DealBuilder online car-buying application that enables salespeople to be completely mobile while guiding customers through the car-buying process.

The new app can be used in-store with DealerBuilder Showroom, or on a dealer’s website with DealBuilder Online to show inventory, confirm quotes, communicate with managers, fill out credit apps and scan driver’s licenses before test drives.

ELEAD1ONE said DealerBuilder is both designed to keep dealerships central to the online car-buying process and fully integrated into ELEAD1ONE CRM to be used on a desktop, mobile tablet or smartphone.

Because Showroom and Online versions are synchronized, a customer can start a deal online, save it, and then come into a store to complete or finalize from home.

The CRM integration also allows salespeople to utilize the app to access metrics, view appointments, complete tasks, add notes and manage customer contacts.

“Our vision for the future of digital retailing keeps dealerships central to the online car-buying process, unlike third-party solutions that plan to sell partially completed deals as leads to auto dealers,” ELEAD1ONE partner Bill Wittenmyer said in a news release. “Although DealBuilder can be used to complete the entire purchase process online, in the near term we think most customers will start their deals online and come into the dealership for test drives and to sign papers.”

Lexus of Wesley Chapel in Wesley Chapel, Fla., which has been testing DealBuilder Showroom for two months, has 21 salespeople using the app on iPads.

“No matter where the salespeople are on the property they never have to leave the customers’ side. The app shows our customers that we respect their time, and the salespeople love it,” said Lexus of Wesley Chapel’s director of strategy Jordan Johnson. “DealBuilder empowers our salespeople to do more and is simply the intelligent way to do business in 2018.”

While on a dealership’s website, when viewing inventory, a customer is provided the option to “Build Your Own Deal” or “Buy Now.” And they can save vehicles into a “Virtual Lot” or use the app to view side-by-side comparisons.

For a trade-in evaluation, customers can upload vehicle photos and fill out a detailed damage report. When a deal is created online or a customer has questions there are custom notifications that alert salespeople and managers.

 A built-in chat application that connects the customer with a salesperson can be used for both price negotiation and to guide customers through the process, according to ELEAD1ONE.

 With DealBuilder Showroom, dealerships can use a built-in VIN scan to scan the customer’s VIN and fill out a damage report. Customers can compare payments, change terms and add aftermarket products via the app’s built-in desking tool, the company said.