Kavitha Kadari is the Product & Technology Senior Director, North America Business, CDK Global India. She has overall around 20 yrs of experience in IT and 13 yrs of leadership experience including 6 yrs in Global leadership roles. She did her Bachelors & Master in Engineering from NIT Warangal (1993-97, 1997-99). She has worked as a software Engineer, DBA and Senior Database Engineer/Architect in USA for 8yrs before moving back to India and joining ADP. Joined as a Team leader at ADP India and without any prior leadership experience, she has successfully established teams for ADP’s Sales Tax business unit.
Brick-and-mortar retail is hugely impacted by the pandemic and working hard to find new ways to bring customers into stores. The pandemic got added to the list of challenges the retail industry is already facing around margins, the increased consumer appetite towards e-commerce, changing customer needs and behaviors. The pandemic is forcing companies to move faster with previously planned digital transformation strategies. The transformation is not just limited to Operational excellence but focusing more on customer experience to drive revenues. It is about creating the connected engagement using technology while exploring new value propositions and enhancing efficiencies.
The seamless integration of technology in customers’ lives is pushing retailers to think beyond e-commerce and Omnichannel experiences. The retailers are creating the Phygital experience by combining the physical and digital worlds to provide customers a unique and highly personalized experience. This approach is a step further to the omnichannel strategy and seamlessly supports the customer between online and in-store touchpoints. While customers want a hassle-free shopping experience, they also enjoy the interactiveness of seeing and touching a product.
Similar to other industries, the automotive sector is also going through a massive transformation. Most of the research has been digitized in the automotive sales process, and dealers and OEMs are currently focusing on the aspects of the actual car sale process. The brick-and-mortar stores need tools to sell a car online or offline, providing the same experience to customers. The digital transformation is not about having a website to show the list of vehicles, chatbots, or online payments.
The digital experience should allow users to build a deal online, including incentives, trade-in vehicles, mapping payments, and choose any add-on products. The consumer should see realistic, accurate prices for the car they wish to buy. The quotation or price customer gets online, and the quote from stores should match to build the trust between dealer and customer. It needs to be a personalized experience, allowing the customer to choose how much of the vehicle buying process they would like to do online at their convenience and connect that experience to finalize the deal.
The customer may have completed all the research online but would like to touch, feel, or test drive the vehicle before buying. The online channel can simplify the selection process; however, when a customer decides to buy the car, the complete documentation and signing involved in the Finance & Insurance (F&I) process can be laborious and take away the advantages of earlier simplification in the selection process. Consumers are also more and more concerned about sustainability, eco-consciousness, and social awareness. This behavior puts retailers under pressure to undergo eco-transformation towards digital receipts instead of paper ones.
The digital signature solutions can simplify the process of physically signing multiple documents, and Paperless technology can help complete all the documentation and formalities before entering a store. The hybrid signature solutions and web forms can be used internally in dealerships before sending the documents to buyers.
The payment process in the digital world should enable customers to pay online or visit the dealership for payment completion. Digital payments have picked up significantly in other industries, now a mandate for the automotive space. Online payments used to be via credit card with multi-step verification and long transaction processing in the past. They are now adopting one-click purchases and much more integrated using blockchain-based systems to manage benefits and customer loyalty points. Payment always has been seen as an end action to fulfill service and can stand in the way of creating a seamless experience. The payment process has evolved from being a conscious effort to an activity moving to the background. The process has evolved from physical cash or credit/debit card payments to digital payments to almost cashier-less transactions.
The technological advancements that are impacting payment solutions include
Contactless payments – contactless payments rely on NFC and secure magnetic transmission (MST) technology. The NFC technology enables the connection between two electronic devices over a small distance, and it allows consumers to pay with their mobile wallets via tablets, smartphones, or smartwatches.
Open banking APIs – Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow third-party applications access to data from financial institutions in a secured manner. Any non-financial organization can embed the APIs into its platform.
Distributed ledger technology – A distributed ledger is a database that exists across several locations, managed by multiple participants. Distributed ledgers like Blockchain can accelerate payment processing; distributed ledgers provide real-time verification eliminating the need for third-party clearances.
Mobile point of sale – is a revolutionary technology that is a more intelligent and wireless version of the POS. It accepts digital payments anywhere, and it can run with an app or smartphone with multiple connectivity options of 3G/4G, WI-FI, GPRS, and Bluetooth.
Biometric payments – Biometric verification involves identifying a person uniquely by a device. It uses a biometric feature of a user like fingerprints, voice and facial recognition, eye scanners to verify and authorize a person to access a device.
Voice payments – There is a vast demand for voice-enabled services with increased accuracy of voice recognition technology powered by AI. The user can request a payment transaction verbally through voice-enabled devices such as smart speakers.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies are behind making these digital payment services possible. As consumers continue to adopt digital payment technologies, machine learning can use these experiences for improved experience to ensure better fraud protection and security are in place.
With the increased digitization of devices, fintech solutions are expected to impact the auto industry through payments. The in-car payments are on the rise as OEMs continue to partner with payment solution providers. These are currently being implemented through dashboards in the car or through mobile apps. There are multiple ways to technically integrate payment solutions into the vehicle using long-range Radio frequency identification (RFID), Blue tooth low energy hardware (BLE), In-car digital wallet, or Third-party APIs. There are many use cases for in-car payments, from monthly payments to a lender, for service/parts, parking, tolls, and fuel. There are also other use cases around leasing and car-sharing with many potentials to integrate payment solutions in the automotive space. As consumers are looking for better connectivity and convenience, the need for in-vehicle payment solutions is expected to rise.