AASA Tech 2017: Connecting the Technology Dots
With the rollout of Tesla’s new affordable electric vehicles, Google’s strides in autonomous vehicles, and the ongoing integration of AI with an abundance of new automotive products, “disruption” barely touches on all the automotive aftermarket has experienced in 2017.
Some of the sharpest minds in the industry recently met at AASA Tech 2017 in Clearwater, FL to discuss these ongoing changes to the industry, technological advances, and what the future looks like for the automotive market and automotive aftermarket.
With a record number of attendees from different areas of the automotive aftermarket, here’s a look at some of the main discussion topics tackled at AASA Tech 2017:
1. “Car as a Product” vs. “Car as a Service”
As evidenced by Uber in London, ridesharing has become a point of contention for the auto industry. The way the consumer interacts with cars is changing. Car services are no longer just for the one percent and young people are taking full advantage. For example, the millennial demographic would rather pay less for a part and keep the car in the shop an extra day than pay more for a quicker turnaround time. We’re no longer chained to our own personal cars, and frequently, the cheaper option is to use a rideshare app than pay extra to get your car out of the shop.
2. Telematics for Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers
Telematics is becoming increasingly important to the automotive aftermarket as cars become more technologically enabled, according to a recent report from the Equipment and Tool Institute. Telematics technology and dongles--yes, dongles--are allowing for a new level of product analysis by creating massive amounts of product feedback that suppliers can learn from. According to Ashish Pandey in AutoCarPro, the future of the industry belongs to the suppliers who choose to take advantage of the large amounts of data available to them through telematics. This level of feedback and information from both customers and smart products will provide real-time pain points and ways to improve products, straight from the source.
3. Increasing Presence of Technology
Dongles aren’t the only star of the show. Digital transformation has massively affected the retail industry in 2017, and the automotive aftermarket is no exception. Aside from electric vehicles and dongles, suppliers are turning to AI, VR, mixed reality, mobile apps, sensor integration and smart fleet operations. These technologies open a new world to suppliers for how they manage their supply chain, train employees, and how customers experience their products. These new technologies will create more space for creative marketing avenues, more efficient fleets (take Verizon Enterprise, for example), leading to a much larger bottom line. The AMN also predicts that these new technologies “have the potential to generate thousands of jobs in the automotive aftermarket.” A cutting-edge customer experience is the best way to reach your customers during the digital age, and that means investing in customer support and high-quality product content.
4. Retail Going Mobile
Auto Repair Technicians order parts on an almost hourly basis, so how are their buying patterns changing? With the new technology available for ordering parts, retailers and mechanics are increasing their ordering on the internet or mobile platforms. In fact, AutoServiceWorld reports that online parts sales are set to double in volume by 2018.
As a reaction to the growth of the digital age, retailers are beginning to embrace the “BOPUS” model: buy online, pickup in store. They recognize that as online (mobile or not) buying margins increase, the focus is now on convenience and customer service. This also marries the opportunities for marketing in-store and online. As of now, etailing accounts for $6 billion in replacement parts sales.
5. Multi-lingual Information
As with the implementation of new technology, there will always be growing pains related to globalization. While countries like China muscle their way into the American automotive aftermarket with direct-to-consumer selling, American companies must adapt to be multilingual in their selling and support to stay competitive.
If there is one major takeaway from this years’ conference, it is that the automotive aftermarket is learning to adapt to the crazy curveballs coming from new technology. In ten years, the automotive aftermarket has increased to $318.2 billion.The capital and methods for increasing capital are more plentiful than ever, and the future for the aftermarket is bright. Now, it’s up to aftermarket brands to decide how they will support the omnichannel experience via new technologies and mobile enablement.
See you next year!