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Connected car dealerships – the way forward

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Jason Cranswick

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25/03/2024

 

SOME Car dealers don’t quite grasp the distinction between ‘a digital strategy’ and ‘a business strategy for a digital world’, according to the boss of one of the UK’s leading dealer groups.

Jason Cranswick, Managing Director of Norton Way Motors, stressed that the latter of the two approaches is by far the best option if dealers are to make the most of the opportunities that come their way in 2024.

Cranswick, who has an impressive track record in the automotive industry including spells in senior roles at Cinch, Audi and Jardine Motors, was addressing delegates during a special webinar organised by The Lead Agency.

The event, attended by dozens of TLA’s partners and clients, was the first in a number of e-learning sessions to be held by the company this year. It was designed to provide attendees with useful information across a range of automotive topics – and the digital future of the car industry was a key talking point.

Cranswick said: “Digital, up until recently, has meant filling the sales funnel and transacting. However, the digital transformation of our industry is around codifying and simplifying our businesses. Most of us have very fragmented data, and that’s because legacy technologies sit behind it.

‘Our ability to become an e-commerce business is impeded by these fragmented systems and processes. We talk about a digital strategy but what we need is a business strategy for a digital world. That is the awakening that dealers like us are having. OEMs are realising this too, as are new entrants to the market.

‘The old way of doing things is not compatible with a codified method of omnichannel retailing. That’s what we have to address.”

Turning to customers’ increasing levels of online activity, he added: ‘What the internet has done is give consumers the ability to determine what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

“At Norton Way, we’re aiming to create an omnichannel route for the consumer through our business – using aligned systems, platforms and processes, whether they’re in our hands or the hands of the consumer.”

Cranswick also said the move to a digital environment required the addition of new skillsets to dealerships: “We still need the very best salespeople of course, but also data analysts and systems specialists… colleagues we wouldn’t have had, pre-Covid.”

Acknowledging industry discussions around connected cars, he said he wanted Norton Way to become a connected dealer group.

“My mission is to make interacting with Norton Way Motors easy, useful and surprising. If I can make life easy for our customers, do things that are useful and deliver good surprises, the likelihood is that the customer will be converted and retained.

‘As we go through this transformation to a digital world, we need a clear vision, extremely strong values and a real growth mindset. Ultimately, resilience is what we need.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris Wright

Chris Wright has been covering the automotive industry nationally and internationally for 30 years. Following spells with consumer titles he became News Editor of Automotive Management (AM), Editor of Automotive International, International Editor for Detroit-based Automotive News, and Editor of Dealer Update. He has also co-authored several FT Management Reports and contributes regularly to Justauto.com

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