Why Dealership Digital Signage Is Mission-Critical for the EV Evolution

Why Dealership Digital Signage Is Mission-Critical for the EV Evolution

EVs bring a new list of terms that consumers are being asked to understand, and dealers are being asked to effectively, accurately explain. Digital signage can help.

By Robert Orndorff , VP Product at Spectrio

Auto dealers are confronting massive changes to their businesses as electric vehicles start to supplant conventional ones on lots and in showrooms, and one of the biggest challenges will be educating existing and prospective customers, as well as dealer staff.

The auto industry has always been filled with jargon about performance and features, but EVs bring a long and unfamiliar new list of terms that consumers are being asked to understand, and dealers are being asked to effectively, accurately explain.

Compound that with the dizzying variety of EV types, and it all begs for effective product education at the so-called moment of truth for new vehicle buyers — when consumers are in a showroom or on a lot, thinking about getting a new set of keys.

Educating customer-facing dealer sales and support teams is a start. Brochures and posters can help. But one of the most effective and pervasive tools for elevating the awareness and understanding of emerging EV options is on-premise digital signage — screens around a facility that can passively educate, answer questions, dispel myths and ease any anxieties.

The EV business is still emerging, and gradually finding its way into dealerships that have been all about internal combustion engines since their doors first opened. This is different, and challenging … for just about everyone — seller or buyer.

Unfamiliar Everything

There’s the jargon. EVs involve technical terms like kWh, regenerative braking, charging efficiency, extended range, hybrids … the list seems endless. Dealers are being asked by customers to explain electrical engineering concepts and terms to people in ways that lay people can grasp and appreciate.

There’s also the distinctions between vehicle types. How many consumers understand, for example, that a hybrid’s benefits come much more from regular braking on stop-and-go city drives, versus long, fast highway trips? 

Potential EV buyers, particularly if the technology is wholly new to them, will likely come in to showrooms with range anxiety — worried that opting for an EV will leave them steadily concerned about their ability to get around as needed on an EV’s battery charge.

Charging infrastructure and availability may chill many prospective buyers, having seen stories of lineups and long waits at charging stations. They’ll also want to understand what’s involved in charging, both in time and cost, at home and on the road.

Inexperienced Buyers

There’s a good chance a new buyer’s only EV driving experience to date was an electric golf cart, so they’ll have questions and qualms about everything from speed and performance to reliability and lifespan, particularly when it comes to batteries. Some customers will want to understand total cost of ownership, and whether making the jump from gas to electricity fully makes sense.

Consumers are also seeking answers to questions that dealership employees have probably never come across, or considered:

  • What materials need to be sourced to build the batteries?
  • Where do these materials come from, and who owns the means of production?
  • What impact will energy-intensive manufacturing plants have?
  • How is battery disposal performed and what are the impacts?
  • What impact will charging stations and related grid infrastructure have at scale?
  • And on and on … the conversations may be dramatically different from those for gas engines, extending into social, economic and environmental issues that never came up in the past.

Tactical Screen Messaging

From feature video walls in the showroom to screens in customer lounge areas, custom-produced and curated digital signage programming is ideally suited to explaining and ultimately selling buyers on EVs. Carefully conceived, tactical messaging on screens ensures often complicated concepts are outlined and conveyed accurately, and visually.

A good explainer video that shows in friendly terms how regenerative braking works is probably going to be more effective than a lengthy written passage in a brochure, or a long-winded explanation from a sales associate … who may or may not fully understand it all.

That last point is particularly important. While digital signage screens are generally regarded as being deployed to educate and motivate customers, they also have the quiet, less appreciated benefit of doing the same work with staff. On-screen messages that customers might see two or three times during a visit are seen hundreds of times by staff as they go through their workdays. With repetition, ideas and concepts likely sink in more than they might in a single dealer training session.

Education extends all the way up to the owner and management offices, with dealers needing to embrace the reality that they can’t leave consumer product marketing and communications to the manufacturers.

While dealers may generally feel that it is incumbent on the OEM to market the value and benefits of EV purchases, the reality is that educating consumers and helping them to feel comfortable with an EV transition is part of their customer experience.

That requires effort on the part of dealers, if they want to be successful and competitive. That’s not only with traditional rivals, but also with the new, pure-play EV manufacturers emerging on the market.

Getting Started

Conventional digital signage solutions are designed, by nature, to be everything to everyone. They are not designed, developed and delivered with the specific needs of a vertical market or industry. They may have content creation tools, but not content specific to a market. They may have data integration tools, but no direct ties to the management systems that run different kinds of businesses.

By comparison, there are platforms that are built to meet the needs of a specific industry, such as one that is directly integrated with the DMS platforms most used by dealers.

It’s possible, of course, to use almost any digital signage software to do the simple job of driving messages to screens. But a solution built for dealers, with curated programming that understands the business and presents emerging technologies like EVs through engaging, targeted messages, will prove far easier to use, save money because the content is already developed, and most of all, have an impact with customers.

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