What’s New and Different at Digital Dealer 20?

by · January 27, 2016

Every time I return from a Digital Dealer Conference, people ask me what, if anything, I saw that was new and exciting. There is always new stuff at this expo, and last week while attending DD20 in Orlando I was able to dive deep into a lot of it.

Unlike the 19th Digital Dealer Conference last Fall in Las Vegas where I avoided the expo hall and spent my entire visit there attending sessions, at DD20 I did the opposite – I spent my entire time there in the expo hall talking with exhibitors. I did not attend a single session.

You’d be amazed at how challenging it is to make a complete sweep of the expo hall in two and half days, and I met almost exclusively with exhibitors that had synergy with my business.

What's New at Digital Dealer

Busy Playing Field in the Used Car Business

If you’ve kept up with me over the years, one thing you know about me is that I always welcome an opportunity to learn new aspects of the car business, and a few months ago I had an opportunity to begin learning about the used car business to help foster a new client relationship.

There were several exhibitors at DD20 exclusive to the used car business, three of which I already was familiar: Car Lister, DRIVIN, and The Appraisal Lane; plus two with which I wasn’t: Chatterfox and TradeRev. As you might imagine, I spent ample time with all of them.

Each solution addresses the dealers’ used car operation at the dealer-to-dealer level, but each one approaches it in a unique way:

  • Car Lister has a dealer and consumer interface with a social component
  • DRIVIN relies on data and analytics and a concierge to help dealers buy smarter
  • The Appraisal Lane actually makes offer to buy your vehicles, and buys them and takes on the risk with you
  • Chatterfox brings buyers together in a simple chat-like environment distinguished by discussion rooms
  • TradeRev is an online auction site backed by Adessa

Keep in mind, these exhibitors aren’t the only players in this space. Other players include: LotPop, TradePending, and the Vehicle Acquisition Network (a current client of mine).

Clearly, if you are in the used car business looking to create a faster turn and achieve a higher gross then you will need to do your homework on each these solutions. You won’t need all of them, but you could use at least one or two.

Being Proactive with the Customer Experience

Another area you may know I pursue is that of the customer experience. A dealership is a local multi-million dollar brick and mortar operation and I have high expectations from every dealership in the country. Because of this I expect dealers to make the customer experience one of their highest priorities.

Most dealerships strive to and do provide a positive customer experience. Part of this effort is to maintain a good online reputation through reviews and ratings, but if you think ratings and reviews are the answer to ensuring your dealership provides the best experience then you have it all wrong.

Hynts understands this. Hynts ensures that every customer is contacted after their visit and it uses personalized text and email to do so, but the purpose of Hynts is not to foster more online ratings and reviews. What Hynts sets out to do is get feedback from the customer prior to the CSI survey and prior to being asked to post an online review.

With Hynts, sales and service representatives are better able to establish an open dialog with customers and continues to build rapport even after their back on the road. This builds trust with customers that can result in higher CSI scores, higher online ratings, and most importantly, repeat business.

Another exhibitor appealing to the customer experience was DEALERSUCCESS showcasing their VirtualDeal solution designed to allow customers on your website to put together their own deal online at their convenience with the help of an assigned personal dealer manager in the event they have questions and require assistance.

I saw VirtualDeal for the first time on a dealer’s website a few days prior to the event, so when I discovered their booth at the expo I was pleased to meet husband and wife owner team Joe and Kim Orr and get a feel for their personality and enthusiasm.

The Story Matters Too

Aside from the problems each of these solutions are intended to solve for dealers, it’s the people and their stories behind the solutions that have the most significance to me. When I discover new companies and tools and have a chance to talk with the people that created these things, I ask them to share their story with me.

Why did you create this? Why are you here? How are dealers and industry folk harnessing your concept and where is it going? Learning these things about the people and their ideas allows me to get a sense for their passion and their vision, which is more exciting to me than the products themselves.

What did you discover at DD20?

What were you surprised to not see or discover?


Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Future Mobility & Connectivity Podcast, Ryan began working in the automotive industry in 2001, establishing his roots in online vehicle merchandising before expanding into digital marketing and now multi media for Automotive B2B. You can connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.