Digital solutions abound at NADA expo as vendors aim to meet evolving market


If you asked me to sum up the 2017 National Automobile Dealers’ Association Convention and Expo in two words, I’d say digital retailing.

And I’m likely not alone.

As in years past where the major software players all seemed to converge on the same type of product at the same time – mobile solutions, dealership apps, desking, etc. – the industry’s biggest vendors all seemed to be showcasing various forms of digital retailing solutions that continued to push more of the sales process online. The offerings varied by booth and in the level of retail digitization, but the overriding principle for many was the same: consumers have changed and now demand a transparent and simple vehicle sales process that pushes more of the individual steps online so buyers can minimize the amount of time spent in a dealership.

The offerings varied by booth and in the level of retail digitization, but the overriding principle for many was the same: consumers have changed and now demand a transparent and simple vehicle sales process that pushes more of the individual steps online so buyers can minimize the amount of time spent in a dealership.

The timing of the emerging trend is particularly interesting given that Canada has recently seen the implementation of what is the most comprehensive, end-to-end digital sales process in the world in the Genesis At Home program.

Powered by the team at MotoInsight, the ecommerce program allows for a complete online transaction and is likely being watched by many in the auto industry both here and abroad as the potential model moving forward.

Of course, that is not to say it was all digital retailing. The mammoth hall at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was absolutely packed with every manner of solution of which a car dealer could dream. The expo component was massive as nearly 600 exhibitors filled the hall from stem to stern.

The 2017 installment also marked the 100th anniversary of the NADA. Founded in 1917, the trade association was formed when a group of dealers set out to fight a new effort by the U.S. Congress to levy a luxury tax on new automobiles.

Thirty dealers from state and local associations traveled to Washington, D.C., and convinced Congress that cars were not luxury items as they were classified, but instead were vital to the economy.

The group prevented total factory conversion to wartime work and succeeded in reducing a proposed five per cent luxury tax to three per cent.

“Local dealers argued in 1917 that cars are a necessity of American life, not a luxury item,” said 2017 NADA chairman Mark Scarpelli, whose term coincides with the beginning of a new White House administration and Congress in the nation’s capital.

“NADA was formed to make sure that entrepreneurs could open local dealerships and provide affordable cars and transportation to farmers, factory workers and people from all walks of life.”

And NADA wasn’t the only trade association celebrating milestones in New Orleans. The Canadian Automobile Dealers’ Association marked its 75th anniversary with a rocking party at the House of Blues on Jan. 25.

Canadian rock icon Tom Cochrane entertained the crowd of several hundred.


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