Contactless Contracting has been a hit with Dealerware customers – the new feature has been used nearly 10,000 times since it launched at the end of June. Quick uptake is a sign we’ve delivered a needed innovation at the right time, and Automotive News recognized the quick creation of the new contactless features in the Retail Technology section of their July 13 issue.

Dealerware President and Chief Product Officer Russ Lemmer told AutoNews retail reporter Lindsay VanHulle how the idea to came to light in March, and mentioned that in development, the Dealerware team considered not just the immediate need for Contactless Contracting, but also how customer interactions will change in the future.

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“In the last 10 weeks, [automotive retailers] accelerated 10 years in terms of what they need. We’re never going back to what we all thought was normal,” Lemmer told VanHulle.

The recent innovations Lemmer pointed to are bigger than just finding ways to socially distance with customers. Dealers are in fact reshaping the way automotive retail works altogether. 

 “Consumers are going to want human touch without the human interaction. They do everything from banking to booking travel on their phone, and companies like Amazon have ‘primed’ them to expect the product comes to them, not the other way around,” Lemmer said.

“This has forced automotive retailers to adopt digital tools and offer out-of-dealership experiences that help keep their business moving,” he said. “In turn, dealerships are delivering experiences that align with the ways consumers do business in other areas of their life. There’s no going back – and that’s not a bad thing.”

Some examples of rapid innovations in automotive retail include newly-widespread online car buying tools – until recently just a niche offering – which help every dealership move more vehicles on the customer’s schedule, without requiring them to visit the dealership. 

Dealerships are also using new strategies like pickup and delivery to help customers address service and maintenance needs in a more convenient fashion. In conjunction with online scheduling tools, pickup and delivery services can help space out repair orders more predictably and reduce the amount of time a vehicle needs to spend in the service bay

The right digital toolset can also allow dealerships to experiment with fleet vehicle use cases and out-of-dealership experiences. 

Click here to read about some of the experiments happening at dealerships around the country.

For example, Contactless Contracting within Dealerware’ s Mobile Contracts can help facilitate unaccompanied test drives that don’t require the customer to walk into the dealership. We’ve suggested delivering test vehicles to customers’ homes for test drives, and we’ve heard about self-service test drive experiences at dealerships, in which customers send photographs of their ID and insurance, pick up a key fob and keep a salesperson on the phone to talk them through vehicle features during their test drive.

The hallmark of all of these advancements is that they align with consumers’ expectations for really any shopping experience: buying a car in 2020 can be self-service, and maintaining your car now no longer requires you plan your day around visiting the dealership. 

What fast-tracking innovation really means in automotive retail, then, is improving in ways we knew were possible but weren’t priorities before. 

With our new tools, Lemmer says, “we put thousands of dollars back into dealerships’ wallet’s every month that would otherwise be left on the table, and we help them become more efficient in the process of recovering those costs. As a result, our dealerships can serve more customers, and their customers are going to be happier with their experience. That’s what we’re selling. We’re selling a commitment to a better experience for everyone.”