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AutoPoint Blog

Will Other Industries’ Technology Change the Auto World?

Posted by Manuel Soto Thursday, May 11, 2017

Last week, we talked about some big technology trends in the auto industry that could change the way auto retailers do business. Namely, autonomous driving and ride sharing. However, these are not the most pressing innovations for your auto dealership. Before these trends start to take effect, you may see other technology tools make their way into your shop.  

In this blog, we’ll examine three hypothetical questions to get you thinking about technology already being used in other industries that could transfer to the auto realm. Through this, we’ll see how some stanch bastions of the classic dealership could be changing, and what that could mean for the future.

1) What’s the Future of Parts Managers?  

Right now, your parts staff relies on your DMS and associated systems to inventory and manage your parts department. A staff member looks up the part in the system, collects it, and checks it out. But existing technology could eliminate all that walking around, if not throw out the human component entirely.

For example, Amazon purchased robotics company Kiva Systems in 2012 and quickly restricted the distribution of Kiva’s signature droids to Amazon warehouses. But these little merchandise-moving robots have already made big waves. Spin-off robotics companies have taken Kiva’s place in the distribution chain, and warehouses throughout the retail industry now feature humans working alongside robotic counterparts that can move more quickly, more accurately, and never get tired.

Robotics companies, including Amazon’s own robotics division, are continually evolving droids to be faster, more accurate, and more independent from humans. Walmart has been experimenting with small flying drones in its warehouses, and Amazon has had drones on its radar for years, for both delivery and warehouse management.

As robotics continue to develop and infiltrate other industries, your parts department could join the revolution. Imagine a parts counter managed by a robot. After all, why have humans running around to find parts when a small droid or drone can get them faster? 

2) Is It Finally Time for Online Vehicle Purchases?

The traditional franchised dealer model has been challenged in recent years by both online vehicle sales and direct-to-consumer models such as Tesla’s. E-commerce is one type of technology that’s been around in other industries for decades, namely retail. This year, Amazon’s slated to beat Macy’s as the largest apparel retailer in the United States—all without brick-and-mortar clothing stores.

Vehicles have historically been difficult to sell online. But that could be changing. Tesla has long held a direct-to-consumer sales model, and wants to implement Apple-style stores in routine consumer avenues like shopping malls, with no onsite inventory. Sales lots could become a thing of the past, and a direct-to-consumer wave of change could pave the way for easier online vehicle purchases.

3) Can Software Updates Service Vehicles?  

Smartphone and app makers have long controlled necessary updates and fixes through over-the-air software updates. Consumers press a button and glitches and bugs are repaired without them ever having to see a “service” professional.

Although vehicle hardware will certainly still require physical intervention, Tesla has been using over-the-air updates for its vehicles for years. In 2014, two recalls were issued: one for Tesla and one for GM, both related to problems that could potentially cause fires.

To fix the issue, GM owners had to bring their vehicles into a nearby dealership. As for the Tesla owners? Tesla merely sent out a software update. Problem solved, with no effort from the driver.

As in-vehicle technology becomes increasingly complex, more and more routine issues may be solved through over-the-air software updates without the vehicle ever entering a service center.

Right now, technology overhauls like these are still thought experiments for the auto industry. But over the next decade, we’ll have the opportunity to see these kinds of ideas become reality.   

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