Recently, the CBT Automotive Network was on-location at NADA 2020 in sunny Las Vegas where host Jim Fitzpatrick spoke with Jenn Reid, Vice President of automotive marketing and strategy for Equifax.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What’s going on at Equifax at NADA? I mean your booth is humming. I can’t even get in to say hello to you. So tell us what’s going on.
Jenn Reid: We really over the past year have spent a lot of time listening and learning from the ecosystem and so what we’re really unveiling is what we’ve listened and learned. And what we saw was there is a really big need in the space to help bring together the retailing process, especially both digital and in the showroom. It’s fragmented and so the solutions we have today are really addressing the needs that we feel are going to help bring everything together. So we’re rolled out our digital ID solution, which is focused on helping to identify and authenticate the consumer early in the process and capture the consent which allows you to share the information with the dealer.
Jenn Reid: The second solution is digital qualify, which actually allows you to qualify the consumer and make vehicle recommendations based on that information. And then the third, digital accelerate, is actually bringing in affordability. So I’m sure you’ve heard it, but those are some big buzz, big themes in the space right now.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh, there’s no question. Affordability, every dealer is concerned about that. I mean we talk probably ad nauseam at CBT about that, because the average price of a car being $38,000, where are we going? Where are we in just five years, is it going to be 50 grand? I mean, it’s crazy.
Jenn Reid: And it keeps going up.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I know. I know.
Jenn Reid: And we’re hearing a lot on the used car front. So dealers are really looking for solutions that are going to bring it all together. So we’re having some great conversations at the show and really excited, understanding what those pain points are and really being able to deliver solutions to help. I’m really excited and the team is making a big impact.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s great. That’s great. A lot of dealers that you had mentioned are dealers that they’re looking for a solution that does bring it all together. Because if you say dashboard to a dealer, they want to hit you, right, if I have to have another dashboard, because I’ve got so many to look at. And I know Equifax has come up with a solution for that, which is huge. I mean, you want to make it as easy as possible for that dealer to take that customer from cradle to grave, as they say, right through the entire process. We talked recently about the disconnection, or the disconnected experience for the customer between online and showroom. How is Equifax solving that issue? I know that’s a big one.
Jenn Reid: Well, we really believe that it starts with identifying the consumer, right? And if you think about what a consumer is going through, they’re doing all this research online.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh, yeah. 14 to 17 hours. It’s unbelievable.
Jenn Reid: Yeah. And then they start all over again when they get to the dealership.
Jim Fitzpatrick: There’s nothing more frustrating. And I’ve purchased cars. I’ve been in the industry for 35 years. It’s still extremely frustrating.
Jenn Reid: Yeah, absolutely. And we talked about this a couple of weeks ago. The stat from last year that I heard, around 61% of consumers think that the car process is the same or worse, after all the money that’s been spent. So when we really looked at it, we said, “You’ve got to identify that consumer.” That’s the first thing. You’ve got to ask them for permission to be able to share the information. But we’ve got to give them a personalized experience, and personalization at scale, not just in that one independent point in time.
Jenn Reid: And then you’ve got to figure out how to share it with the dealer. So really what we’re trying to do is bring that all together. So when the customer shows up the showroom, the dealer is equipped to be able to help them meet their needs. And I’m a believer. I don’t think the process has changed that much. Where it’s happening has changed, absolutely. But you’ve got to be able to figure out, how do you know who your customer is? What needs, what wants? What’s their budget? All of those things we used to do at the showroom is happening online now.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.
Jenn Reid: They need to be there.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. If I can buy light bulbs from Amazon and they welcome me back and then make four other suggestions and know that I like my package on the sidestep in front of the the front step… Here we are sitting 60, 70, 80 thousand dollar cars and we make it like it’s a whole new day every single time somebody comes in. And, “Oh, what’s your name, what do you like?” And then it goes to the next person at the dealership and they do the same thing, if it’s a service or…
Jenn Reid: And that’s buying and servicing a car.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.
Jenn Reid: I mean, there’s a huge opportunity for improvement. The other stat from last year that I found really interesting from the research was: 74% of consumers want to be able to transact online, but only about 24, 25% of dealers are actually equipped to do the process.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That crazy?
Jenn Reid: It’s crazy.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. It really is.
Jenn Reid: So I think when you look at it, it’s like 2020 has got to be about the year where you start really getting engaged with where your consumers are and bringing that information forward into the process. You can’t wait to the FNI office to figure out these things.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. And you mentioned service, and I know that this helps in that area. People don’t typically think of Equifax as a brand that’s going to help them with their fixed ops department, right? Talk to us about that, and connecting in all of that.
Jenn Reid: So one of the biggest pieces is getting to understanding who that consumer is and pulling the information. Whether somebody is in a service lane and ready for that next vehicle, so being able to mine and understand and identify those consumers that are in, but then also some of the experience piece of it. We offer a lot of digital solutions that can help you tailor messages to those customers.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Right. Talk about the role of verifications. How’s this evolving?
Jenn Reid: Well, quite frankly, in the dealer space oftentimes there isn’t much, right? I mean, the lenders require you to get a driver’s license. And unless they stip a deal, oftentimes there isn’t.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. And my teenage daughter will tell you it’s way easier to get an authentic fake ID. She’s in college right now and I’m like, “Well, you’re not drinking, right? You’re only 20.” And she was like, “Yeah, here’s my ID.”
Jenn Reid: Oh, no.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And it looks more real than the driver’s license.
Jenn Reid: Yeah. So one of the things we’ve seen is that as more and more is happening online, it’s ripe for fraud. And one of the things is these are big transactions. So whether it’s your lender relationship, dealers just can’t afford to mess that up. So I think now verifications are more important than ever. And I think the value that can bring it by doing it upfront, so you can be confidently transacting with your customers. And when they show up at the dealership, you don’t have to go through all that due diligence because you’ve already got it done upfront.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a huge peace of mind, because if the fraud is detected and comes out that that’s not a real deal, that dealer is going to be paying, giving him a check and saying, “Here, bank, here’s…” Because it was misrepresented.
Jenn Reid: I mean, it only took one buyback for me to really… I mean, that’s painful.
Jim Fitzpatrick: We’ve all been there.
Jenn Reid: So yeah, at the end of the day though, but it’s also about speeding the process up, right? When we start talking about how we’re unlocking automotive commerce, what we’re doing is we’re unlocking how you understand the consumer. You’re tailoring the process to them and you’re speeding it up accurately. And I think that’s so important in what we’re going to do and it’s going to be what propels us ahead.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. What are the solutions available now that help dealers improve their target marketing?
Jenn Reid: So we’ve got a couple of different things. One, obviously, our digital ID. You can actually identify who that consumer is. So now you can have a one-to-one transaction or relationship with them. But even before that, we’ve got a lot of digital solutions where we’ve taken our assets, so things like income, FICO, disposable income, likelihood to buy a new car. There’s a lot of great-
Jim Fitzpatrick: Those are huge data points.
Jenn Reid: Absolutely. So when you can bring that together and you can start tailoring and structuring a deal much earlier in the process, even when they’re anonymized… Powerful.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. There’s no question about it. So in terms of the takeaways from NADA 2020, share some with us.
Jenn Reid: I think it’s really important for dealers to recognize the fact that the process hasn’t particularly changed, right? The steps of the sale and when a consumer has to do, it’s where it is. And it’s really looking at, do you have the right sort of tools and partners in your tool belt to be able to go and meet the needs? So I think a big part of it is digital retailing’s still a big topic. My belief is that there’s still going to be that role of the dealership. So having a process that’s nimble enough to take the customer as far or as little as they want online, and then transferring it into the showroom, is going to be really important. Verifications and understanding who that customer is, very early funnel, going to be critical if you’re going to do business online, right? And really, really focusing on how can you personalize the experience and accelerate it and speed it up and not make sure they start all over again. I think those are going to be big themes in 2020.
Jim Fitzpatrick: For sure. And they all go into the same digital retailing funnel, don’t they? They’re starting to prepare dealers to at least think along the lines of an Amazon and maybe a Corvana one day where the vehicle’s delivered right to the house from an app that the dealer’s got, right? I mean, they start to at least be going down that road as a dealer in the way that they think and the way they operate internally. And you guys have got solutions for that, so-
Jenn Reid: Yeah, absolutely. Consumers at the center of everything, right?
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s exactly right. They’re driving this bus for sure. So dealers, if you’re here, get out to see Jenn Reid and her team at Equifax. If you’re not here and you didn’t make it out to NADA this year, you owe it to yourself, you owe it to your dealership, to check out Equifax and some of the solutions that Jenn’s talking about. It’s 2020. You’ve got to wake up and smell the coffee. Digital retailing is right around the corner, and Equifax can help you every step of the way to make that a seamless and streamlined process for your customer. So Jenn Reid, thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.
Jenn Reid: Thanks so much. Always appreciate it. And call me.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And call her. There you go. Thanks so much.
Jenn Reid: Thanks.