LAS VEGAS, NEV. – If digital retailing was the unofficial theme from the 2017 National Automobile Dealers’ Association Convention and Expo, this most recent edition in Las Vegas in late March was digital retailing: the sequel.
The 2018 NADA Show, held at the convention center in Sin City from March 22 to 25, was in many ways, a digital showcase.
Major software providers from across North America again made the largest splash with many setting up massive booths in an effort to showcase the latest solutions in ever-growing product suites.
“Judging by the number of online retailing solutions and building blocks here you’d think half the cars sold in North America were sold online,” said one industry insider wishing to remain nameless.
“I can’t imagine having to cut through all the noise to find one system.”
The yearly event hosted by the U.S. dealer association is considered the largest dealer-focused show in the world. It offers tens of thousands of dealers and dealership staffers the opportunity to meet with manufacturers and vendors offering countless solutions, tools and products.
This year’s sprawling expo filled the north and central hall as more than 500 exhibitors showcased their wares over more than 700,000 square feet.
The turnout for 2018 was NADA NUMBERS.
A number of major players continued to push the technology envelope with deepened online retailing strategies, the use of artificial intelligence and a continued focus on transparency in the buying process.
Another recurring theme was the idea of communication with customers. Several software exhibitors showcased new or updates to chat programs and texting features for the showroom and the service drive.
Of course, that’s not to say it was all software all the time. Virtually every corner of the market was covered with promotional and display items, dealership lighting companies, flooring manufacturers, hole-in-one insurance firms and more.
The usual automakers were also there – Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, General Motors – with one interesting new player: GAC Motors, the Chinese OEM looking to expand into North America in 2019.
Aside from the expo, NADA had its usual focus on education. The association held 120 educational sessions falling under eight learning tracks in traditional workshop settings, interactive sessions and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
Speakers for the Distinguished Speakers Series included Harry Cohen, president of Entheos LLC; author and former Hard Rock executive Jim Knight; retired NFL quarterback, entrepreneur and broadcaster Joe Theismann; and Mark O’Neil, chief operations officer and executive vice-president of Cox Automotive.
Keynote addresses were given by college football coach Nick Saban; Waymo CEO John Krafcik; and former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill.
Canadian AutoWorld staff spent time digging for Canadian content and reports back on everything noteworthy we found in our May edition.