Vehicle Inventory Management – dealers’ challenges

We’ve rounded up the most common pain points dealers face when managing their vehicle inventory.

Recently, we spoke to a number of dealerships and dealer groups to get insight into vehicle inventory management. In particular, we wanted to understand their unique challenges and pain points when they manage cars across multiple locations, franchises, data sources and technology layers.

The findings make for interesting reading…In short;

  • limited product offerings on the market
  • ‘one size fits all’ approach
  • too much time and manual labour involved
  • B2B automotive technology hasn’t evolved in line with consumers’ appetites for e-commerce

In this blog, we’ll discuss the common challenges around vehicle inventory management. We’ll also share some suggestions for how dealers can navigate around these issues.  And unlock an easier, quicker and more efficient route to market for their stock.

1. Where are your cars, right now?

If someone were to ask for the status of all your vehicles, across multiple locations, what would you do? 

Based on our research, we’d guess that you’d call around and manually search to get updates on every car within your network.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Almost all the dealers and groups we spoke to told us it’s a pain to get visibility of all cars across all their franchises and/or locations.

There are a few reasons for this;

  • Poor data quality
  • Disjointed systems, information stored in multiple places
  • Lack of automation, manual process to update data
  • Disconnect between database and website CMS

One dealer group we spoke to summed up these frustrations perfectly;

“Inventory management and data feeds are the achilles heel of the industry” 

The solution? Feed multiple data sources into a single data platform. 

The more comprehensive your data set, the more accurate and up-to-date your inventory records will be. We’d suggest partnering with a provider who has access to multiple, credible data sources for best effect.

2. The e-Commerce revolution

Consumer retailing has shifted towards e-commerce over the past few years. But there’s been little progress on digital transformation in the trade.

For example, many dealer groups are still tied to old, outdated software solutions. These give little flexibility to manage inventory in the way dealers want to. And a common problem is that the back-end (inventory database) tends to be tied to a closed source front-end (website).

This means that whoever uses the inventory software can’t tailor the technology to do what they need it to. They may need to manually edit vehicle records or set rules on how/where stock can be advertised on a car-by-car basis. But this is tedious and time-consuming when managing hundreds of cars across multiple locations.

The solution? Replace your current technology stack with an automated, open-source, back-end platform for vehicle inventory.  

‘Automated’ : developers set rules using algorithms. So these are applied automatically when needed, with no manual labour for you.

‘Open-source’ : an API retrieves the data from any other technology platform 

Back-end’ : focuses on the data side of the story only, without being tied to a front-end (website).

3. Slow route to market

Most retailers we spoke to said they are happy with sub-6 day speed to market, but not all are achieving this. Speed to market success appears in either owner-driver operations or single  franchise, small groups, but challenges develop with multi-franchise or larger groups.

Colleague engagement is one of the biggest problems. Folks on the forecourt have enough to do without needing to track down the status of a vehicle that’s been lost in the system for months! 

As a result, many opportunities are being missed simply because it’s too much work to track down those cars that aren’t in a ‘typical’ stage of the process. 

The solution? Set automatic flags in your vehicle inventory management system. So you’ll get an alert when a vehicle record hasn’t been updated within a number of days. And you can take action on cars that need attention. Also, factor in preparation progress reports alongside sales information, so you don’t miss any opportunities on atypical stock. 

You can automate the process of setting flags for overage or dormant vehicles. In fact, this is an effective, proactive way of managing your cars. And, you won’t need to seek out the information, it’ll find you instead.

Once again, technology is the solution here. Find the right data platform and tailor it to behave the way you want it to. Then you can figure out where and how you want to present it in the front-end.

What next?

Are these vehicle inventory management challenges are keeping you awake at night? Then it’s time to take action. 

There are three main areas to focus on to optimise how you manage vehicles at every stage of their lifecycle;

  1. Feed multiple data sources into a single data platform. 
  2. Replace your current technology stack with an automated, open-source, back-end platform for vehicle inventory. 
  3. Sort the data first, then present it where you need to. And make sure it’s accurate, automated and tailored to YOUR unique needs.

Autofinity can help

At Autofinity, we’re building an automated vehicle inventory management system that will help you keep track of your cars with ease.

It is customised, flexible, scalable and automated. So it will be quick and efficient to manage your inventory.

As a team with over 25 years’ experience in the automotive industry, we know first-hand the challenges dealers and groups face in trying to get a single source of truth for their inventory. 

Our development team is building a back-end platform that integrates with any website or third party platform. Seamless API integration will replace manual data feeds and we have access to multiple, credible data sources. We can also tailor your automated stock rules and alerts to your unique needs and preferences.

Get in touch to discuss your needs and find a solution that will take away the pain of vehicle inventory management

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