On March 22, Cars.com’s Jeni Pecard joined a panel of automotive industry practitioners at the J.D. Power Automotive Summit to discuss the effective use of analytics to improve the way used-car dealerships operate. The lively discussion covered a lot of ground in 30 minutes, focusing on how analytics helps a dealership align the 4Ps of Automotive Marketing™ — product, price, place, and person. Here are some of the highlights:

Great analytics predicts behavior instead of simply measuring it

Jeni discussed how advanced analytics tools such as machine learning are making it possible for dealerships to better understand not just how many vehicles are being sold, but how many will be sold. Kristopher Pritchard, group manager at Toyota Financial Services, noted that the predictive power of analytics “fundamentally changes the way we manage our inventory. It’s no longer a once-a-week meeting to determine what’s selling but a constant process of sensing what is going to sell.”

Analytics Helps You Understand Your Customers

Jeni stressed how analytics can align a dealership with the 4Ps of Automotive Marketing™, an example being how a dealership can use analytics to provide better customer insight. That insight brings about a number of benefits, including providing a more personalized experience to its customers.

“Using analytics well is about personalizing the experience for shoppers throughout the entire car-buying process,” Jeni said. “Analytics now has the power to help dealers know who is buying their vehicles and also their preferences. Knowing your customer’s preferences makes it possible for the dealer to personalize the content and experiences they provide.”

Underscoring the human factor, Jeni shared how advanced analytics tools made possible by artificial intelligence can vastly improve a dealership’s operations – but such tools need to enhance, not replace, people. “Chatbots can make a dealership more effective, but a person still needs to take action on the information you get from a chatbot,” she said. “Analytics needs to complement your business.”

Successful analytics requires collaboration across the enterprise – and beyond

Jonathan Banks of J.D. Power said, “Predictive analytics changes how you do business. You are likely to face criticism and get resistance. This is where collaboration and leadership support are needed.”

Kristopher Pritchard noted that analytics may also require collaboration beyond the dealership, including the manufacturer and finance providers. “Multiple parties need to come together to collaborate on all stages of developing, selling, and financing a used vehicle. Analytics forces you to ask questions such as, ‘What is the impact of a lower price on resale values?’ Those questions require collaboration between the dealer, manufacturer, and finance company to address.”

How Dealerships Should Think of Analytics

Jeni summed up her advice to dealerships this way:

  • Use analytics to get deeper insight into your customer’s preferences and purchasing behavior — especially by aggregating your dealership reviews. “Customer reviews are social currency,” she said.
  • Use analytics to adjust your marketing mix by helping you understand how your customer’s journey is changing.
  • Finally, with advanced analytics. adjust your inventory on the lot faster and more intelligently.

Jeni is among the Cars.com executives onsite at the NADA Show. For more insight into how you can win with analytics, sign up for a visit now to talk with Cars.com at Booth 4515C.

We look forward to connecting with you at NADA!