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AM Live 2023: Key insights for the future of automotive retailing in the UK

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Sam EllisRegional Marketing Manager - UK&I
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industry expo last week, hosted jointly by AM Online and the . As the country’s leading annual event for automotive retailing, this year attendees gathered at the NEC Birmingham on 9 November for conversations around the future of the industry. Our stand was continually busy throughout the day – it was wonderful to have the opportunity to see so many of our our customers and partners, and new faces at this renowned event.

As always, the event was a great opportunity to reconnect with industry peers and gain valuable insight from industry experts, while exploring the latest supplier technology and innovations to stay on top of ongoing changes in the automotive retail landscape.

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Collaborative conversations for future success

Keyloop was privileged once again to be an integral part of stakeholder discussions around the industry’s future. Team members from the Keyloop stand welcomed those who arrived at the event with hot beverages and meaningful conversations about industry experiences.Key themes discussed included omnichannel retailing, personalisation, and how a 360-degree view of the consumer will be vital for the future success of automotive retailers. Keyloop shared how its Experience-First platform and applications can help retailers future-proof their businesses, leveraging its connected ecosystem of innovative technology and partner solutions to deliver a frictionless consumer experience.

Transformative knowledge from across the UK

A packed schedule of informative seminars and industry speakers spanned four topics including Digital, Sales, Aftersales, and Strategy within automotive retail. Content covered universal trends impacting the industry including the agency retail model, omnichannel retailing, the EV business model, new market entrants, and more.
Leading automotive retail experts including from Arnold Clark, Pendragon, Peter Vardy, Inchcape, and CarShop shared case studies and expertise, providing attendees with actionable insights and best practices applicable to their own businesses.

Keyloop’s Chief Revenue Officer, James Fernandez, delivered a compelling keynote to a packed theatre, highlighting how evolving consumer behaviours are bringing retailers fresh opportunities to win.
“It’s imperative that we remain relevant to this changing consumer behaviour. If you get that timing and engagement right, that’s when those key moments and trust are won,” explained Fernandez.
He shared key insights into the strategies reshaping the future of the industry, outlining how distinctive customer experiences are at the forefront of this era, driving relevance and profitability for both retailers and manufacturers.  If you missed this Keynote, you can catch-up with the recording below.

The shift toward an Experience-First focus will help the industry transform at pace according to the changing consumer, enabling dealers to build lasting loyalty with seamless experiences that exceed expectations at every touchpoint.

Industry disruptors drive customer experience

The event highlighted the state of disruption in the UK automotive retailing industry due to many factors. The agency model, electrification, new entrants of both traditional and electric vehicles, omni-channel retailing, and shifting customer expectations are collective challenges the industry is facing that will require adaptation and innovation to overcome.These factors emphasise the importance of customer experience and personalisation in unlocking success as retailers move into the future. A 360-degree view of the consumer will be a major key to this, which means breaking down silos and unifying data from multiple points and systems. With a seamless flow of data across the online-offline journey, retailers can optimise the omni-channel retail experience. Johan Sundstrand, Co-founder, and CEO for , impressed attendees with his insights on the many ways artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming how automotive retailers can market their products. Sundstrand shared how, with AI technology on the rise, automations can be introduced to sales processes, digital marketing, and video content to deliver relevant, personalised messages that drive car sales via digital channels.

Electrification presents equal challenges and opportunities

Electrification was a hot topic during the event, being highlighted as a big factor disrupting business models for retailers across the UK as well as the globe. According to EY’s 2023 Mobility Consumer Index , 54% of potential UK car buyers say they’re considering an electric vehicle, up from 49% last year. This trend was driven primarily by demand for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrids and is notably higher than the 41% of UK buyers considering an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.A panel of industry experts including Jacqui Barker – Global OEM Director for Keyloop, Euan Cameron – Stock and Marketing Director for , and Andrew Mouat – Head of Smart Mobility for Scottish Power discussed the ways automotive retailers offer a digital end-to-end EV ecosystem for consumers. The panel, which included energy providers and key stakeholders from the automotive industry, shared how the current EV customer journey can be fragmented, revealing new opportunities for retailers.To build a more seamless experience for EV car buyers, retailers can look to develop world-class customer support all the way from pre-point of sale, go the extra mile to manage home charger installation, and even become advisors who can provide guidance around smart energy tariffs. A personalised experience, as agreed by all panel members, will be a significant success factor.

Movement toward the agency model continues

As the agency model becomes progressively more entrenched in automotive retail, discussions at this year’s AM Live emphasised how this trend means dealers must adapt to a customer-service driven model of operating their businesses.Increasing numbers of manufacturers in the UK are transitioning toward the agency model, including some that have already made the leap like Mercedes-Benz, which introduced it to its UK retailers as of January 2023 . Those making the switch have highlighted the way the agency model streamlines the purchase process by improving transparency and removing extra steps in the showroom, making the consumer experience of buying a car clearer, more convenient, and more consistent.

Automotive retail in 2024 and beyond

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The Keyloop team at AM Live 2023; from left to right: Nick Evans – UK Sales Manager, Darren Preddy – Sales & Market Director, Matthew Cheyne – Brand Director, Ben Whomersley – OEM Director, Pontus Riska – VP Global Business Development, James Fernandez – Chief Revenue Officer, Graham Stokes – VP Sales UKI, Jordan Dun – Pre-sales Consultant and Curtis Blyth – Pre-Sales Manager.

This year’s AM Live event sought to provide expertise to automotive professionals across the UK, supplying guidance to help retailers understand and overcome the disruptions impacting the future of the industry. Seeing the opportunities within the challenges will be essential to adapt to changing consumer behaviours. Putting the customer experience first, while leveraging the latest technology to seamlessly meet customer needs in every interaction, will help retailers drive profitability as the industry continues its transformation in 2024 and onward.

Explore Keyloop’s transformative approach to customer experiences in the exclusive whitepaper: Revolutionising automotive retail through technology: unleashing the ultimate customer experience.

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About the author
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Sam Ellis Sam is responsible for Keyloop marketing strategy and execution in UK and Ireland. With a background in media, sales, and marketing he has spent his career working with and for technology companies globally to generate demand and grow revenue. He has extensive experience working with scale-ups, helping launch several successful software companies into the UK in a diverse range of fields from prop-tech to blockchain and unified communications. Sam thrives on helping organisation connect with their audiences through engaging marketing communications and go-to-market strategies.

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