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August 17, 2016

As customer buying behaviors change rapidly, car companies must adapt to innovative retail models to attract a new demographic of young car buyers. Dealerships are experiencing sluggish footfalls, with a report suggesting that by 2020, 60-70% of new car sales leads will be generated via digital platforms, be it websites, mobile sites, social media, or apps.

The rapid proliferation of mobile devices, coupled with emerging social media platforms, has made the dissemination of knowledge easier and faster. A connected buyer can now access information anywhere, from any device, indicating a preference for a digitized experience over the traditional boundaries of brick-and-mortar stores. This digitization of car retailing has now enabled original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers to offer superlative customer experiences – across the entire sales cycle.

Carmakers are now looking to offer an unmatched ecommerce portal experience to customers who initiate research and purchases online. In this scenario, visual analytics offers a unique competitive advantage to manufacturers who are looking to monitor consumer behavior closely to gain actionable insights. This visual approach helps OEMs architect a robust ecommerce environment, drive initial purchase, boost upselling or cross-selling opportunities, and offer superior customer experience.

Driving Responsive Customer Experiences

Marketing teams, across companies and regions, strive hard to bring offline prospects to their online systems, such as the customer relationship management (CRM) and dealership management systems (DMS). However, generating leads is only half the battle won, given that a potential customer can easily switch to a competitor. In a majority of cases, a customer arrives at the OEMs website to research on products, and leaves without completing the transaction.

Against this backdrop, traditional decision-making journeys no longer hold, as empowered consumers create their own non-linear funnel. Companies are now compelled to build an extended relationship with customers. This requires a comprehensive understanding of customer personas, and mapping subtle changes in their behavior. Here is where the digital interface and visual analytics – powerful visual data analysis capabilities that leverage a conglomeration of heat maps and predictive analytics – come into play.

Mapping a Customers Subconscious Behavioral Pattern

A visual analytics engine provides key insights into behavioral aspects of a customer – an action that can be compared to tracking eyeball movements, showcasing how users engage with a webpage. Factors such as colors or webpage contrast specifications often influence customer behavior – causing a visitor to click through or leave. While traditional data analytics highlights the pages that require attention, it does not zero in on the exact problem area.

Visual analytics shed light on the reasons that can cause website visit leakage. Consider common issues with web pages – broken links, illegible images or poorly designed layout. Adding a new dimension to this are various combinations of call to action (CTA) buttons – that are of different color, size, font size and style, captions – Add to Cart or Buy Now, and so on. Do you really know which one or combination of these might actually cause a customer to leave your portal right away? These are simply the building blocks of a robust visual analytics engine that can help companies fine tune their bounce-rate pattern scrutiny. It can help track unique site visits, cart abandonment rates, and average session time – shedding light on the improvements required in the overall design, layout, and navigation of the website. Visual analytics also proves beneficial in cases where a lead is converted to sales. It can help identify customer preferences, enable companies to create personalized and contextualized services for repeat customers, and ensure customer loyalty in the longer run.

The Road to Success

Understanding customer behavior is the key to sustainable revenue generation – for companies across the globe. Leveraging heat maps bolstered by underlined data and image analytics can help companies understand subconscious behavioral patterns, custom-build their web pages, and enable a seamless, connected experience for the customers. In the coming years, visual analytics is poised to become an integral part of the entire automotive customer lifecycle – from acquisition to retention.


Abhinav is a Digital Business Consultant for the Europe & Japan Manufacturing Industry Advisory practice (ITG). He has around 10 years of industrial and consulting experience of working with global clients across Electrical / Electronics, Automotive, Power, Aero, and IT industries. In his current role, he helps clients formulate digital strategy and transformation roadmap leveraging consulting frameworks /tools. Additionally, he likes to play with emerging technologies such as ML and IoT, and is associated with several DIY projects. He is a mechanical engineer and a management graduate from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kolkata.


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