ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AT THE DEALERSHIP: CDK GLOBAL RESEARCH FINDS AUTO RETAILERS ARE EMBRACING AI IN DRIVING INDUSTRY FORWARD
AUSTIN, Texas – July 26, 2023 – From smart home technology to self-driving vehicles, consumers are increasingly adopting artificial intelligence to automate their daily lives. Automotive dealerships are betting on the technology’s capabilities to enhance the consumer experience during their car-shopping and servicing journeys. According to market research by CDK Global, Inc., a leading automotive retail software provider, 76% of dealers are crediting AI in positively impacting their sales, inventory management, service, and parts.
CDK conducted their survey, What Automotive Dealers Think About Artificial Intelligence in March 2023 to understand the role of artificial intelligence in the dealership and identify potential challenges auto retailers face today that AI can resolve, compared to the survey’s inaugural launch in 2021. AI Virtual Assistance garnered the highest level of interest, particularly among dealer service respondents seeking opportunities to increase efficiency, improve employee satisfaction and provide enhanced customer experiences through real-time updates and predictive service. Long-term commitment to AI adoption in the dealership is gaining traction as well with 20% of auto retailers planning to use one or more applications over the next three years, including machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP).
“Over the last two years, the auto industry has seen significant movement in productizing AI to stay competitive in today’s market by continuing the journey from shopping and purchase to service through added automation,” said Emily Hernandez, CDK Data and Intelligence Product Marketer at CDK Global. “AI also assists dealership staff with identifying predictive maintenance before issues occur, creating easy and convenient customers experiences while strengthening trust.”
Among the dealer concerns solvable with AI are:
- Resolving employment challenges – 57% of dealers cited employee skill shortages and staff burnout as their top concerns. AI optimizes employee skillsets and automates tasks, including identifying qualified sales leads, building targeted marketing messages and proactively converting prospects, allowing sales staff to focus on improving customer service.
- Acquiring and managing inventory levels – 49% of Sales and F&I leadership were focused on managing inventory while 54% of overall respondents cited challenges with providing Service and Parts updates to customers. AI assists in forecasting inventory demand and proactively calculates needs by surveying the market for desired vehicles, thus boosting in-dealership and online sales.
- Attracting new customers – 44% of respondents were concerned with successfully converting Sales leads, which AI can help identify customers with a higher propensity to buy and suggest specific in-stock cars based on consumer profiles. Information is then collected to send customers tailored, timely and relevant message utilizing NLP capabilities in response to consumer inquiries at the dealership.
CDK’s What Automotive Dealers Think About Artificial Intelligence market research also found:
- Dealerships are already capitalizing on the benefits of AI, with 67% utilizing artificial intelligence to assist in identifying and targeted qualified lead opportunities through email, text and chat – up from 56% in 2021.
- 60% of dealers who plan to utilize AI anticipate positive outcomes, compared to 56% in 2021. The top three departments anticipating the best return on AI adoption: Service (63%), Sales (61%), and Marketing/Advertising (46%).
Sales and F&I features that generated the highest level of interest in utilizing AI include Parts and Vehicle Sales Forecasting tools at 27%, Propensity to Buy at 37% and Suggested Vehicles at 36%.
Dealers hesitant to adopt AI in their auto retail locations cited the loss of personal touch, human connection and the possibility of not receiving a solid return on their investment. Additional concerns included potential difficulties in setup and training, and employee resistance to change. While these issues are valid among first-time AI users, auto retailers that lean into the applications will see the benefits that dealer trendsetters are already reaping, Hernandez said.
“AI is not meant to replace staff; rather, it can help employees identify customer’s needs and customize solutions that fit their budget and lifestyle while enhancing the overall consumer experience,” Hernandez explained. “Adopting AI resources like machine learning and natural language processing can positively impact dealerships as the auto retailer business model continues to evolve.”
For additional information on the survey results, please visit What Automotive Dealers Think About Artificial Intelligence.
About CDK Global, Inc.
CDK Global is a leading provider of cloud-based software to dealerships and Original Equipment Manufacturers (“OEMs”) across automotive and related industries. The Company’s cloud-based, software as a service (“SaaS”) platform enables dealerships to manage their end-to-end business operations including the acquisition, sale, financing, insuring, repair, and maintenance of vehicles. By automating and streamlining critical workflows, the integrated platform of modern solutions enables dealers to sell and service more vehicles by creating simple and convenient experiences for customers and improves their financial and operational performance.