CommentaryMar 27th, 2013

Service Apps: the Automotive Retail App


Ask some dealers about mobile apps and they'll talk to you about ‘Angry Birds’ or ‘Words with Friends.’ Other dealers agree that there’s some shopping going on with mobile apps, mostly through e-tailers like or Groupon. But in actuality, it’s the traditional brick and mortar retailers who are changing the entire landscape of mobile app operation.

Traditional brick and mortar retailers (like automobile dealerships, Home Depot, and Macy’s) may not have been the first to seize mobile app adoption, but now they’re not only seizing it — they’re shaking it by the throat.

From December 2011 to December 2012, consumer time spent in retailer apps (versus e-tailer, daily deal, and other shopping apps) has exploded by 525 percent, according to Flurry Analytics. Retailers are joining the mobile app revolution in droves and have located a gold mine with the tectonic shift of online shopping meeting offline shopping, through mobile apps.

E-tailers like Amazon and eBay paved the road by offering the consumer an ‘always-on’ shopping experience, but retailers like Walmart and Staples have perfected it by combining the search and purchase process online with the instant gratification of same-day delivery or pickup offline at a nearby store location.

“The enormous growth in retailer app share has come largely at the expense of Daily Deals, down in share from 20 percent in 2011 to 13 percent in 2012, and Online Marketplace apps, which contracted from 25 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2012,” reports Flurry.

Retailers have done it; they’ve brought us even closer to the customer than the e-tailer, eliminating the factor of time. Talk about taking advantage of an always on, always connected audience! So how do retail apps relate to your dealership?

The future of automotive retail is found in the mobile app, because it is always with you, always on, always connected — the consumer is empowered to purchase automotive-related goods and services wherever they happen to be at the time, often on impulse. Service is a dealer’s profit lifeline, and a smart dealer app can become the best service appointment driving and retention weapon a dealer has ever used.

A dealership app can help people ‘manage’ their car(s) — which are likely the second-largest purchase of their life — whether it’s helping them keep track of (and book service for) their entire family fleet, or using a suite of useful tools that make their everyday car and driving life easier.

Forty-nine percent of a dealerships’ service customers now use mobile apps, and two in three of a dealership’s current service customers are turning to mobile apps daily, but only 13 percent have an app from a dealership or auto service provider, according to a DMEautomotive consumer survey.

With this roughly four to one consumer behavior disconnect, dealerships that embrace an app now will grab the early advantage. Dealers need to build now for the future. They need to get a great app. They need to start driving thousands of downloads. They need to focus on designing new, in-store processes for the mobile customer. So, in a year from now, they’ll have an app that creates incredible value for their customers and a receptive new database of always-connected owners to whom they can market.

Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer of DMEautomotive. To learn more about the benefits of running a mobile app in your store go to and download a free copy of The Pocket Revolution: The Complete Guide to a Killer Mobile App, or purchase one online at For more information, email [email protected].

Authored by

Mike Martinez

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