A new era of automotive transactions

October 15, 2020

The pandemic’s negative impact on Canadians and businesses has been significant, but it has also helped propel certain areas of the automotive industry forward — giving rise to new tools and practices that meet social distancing standards.

SERTI, an IT company and DMS provider in Canada, is one such example. I connected with Francis Gingras, Executive Vice-President at SERTI, to explore the evolution of their dealership software during the crisis.

Earlier this year the company celebrated its 45th anniversary. For SERTI, the pandemic is a driver for new technology tools integrated with dealer management systems.

“We operate in an area where changes are rapid,” said Gingras. “You have to be proactive to stay relevant and constantly in control of new technologies to develop effective means to integrate them into existing systems.”

This challenge, particularly amid COVID-19, is what is causing the push for technology to accelerate and help dealers stay in touch with their customers more effectively.

Progress & challenges

SERTI moved to a newly-constructed building equipped with the latest technologies. The reason they moved has to do with the speed of increasing demand for software that is continuously becoming more agile and efficient — a situation that also illustrates the challenges facing the industry.

To stay relevant, management system vendors need to be able to keep up the pace with change, no matter how frantic. The Montreal systems developer, which already employs nearly 215 people, intends to increase its number of developers by at least 50% over the next few years.

“The product suites resulting from research and development (R&D) target new characteristics of mobility and web interfaces. These are even more user-friendly sales support tools intended for car dealerships,” said Gingras. “From online appointment booking functionalities to more advanced electronic payment devices, the approach aims to deploy and integrate complete solutions for customers.”

“The offer to dealers is now much more diversified,” Gingras added. “It responds to a new range of needs. The possibility for an Internet user to buy a vehicle online without having to go to a dealership raises the height and the seriousness of these anticipated challenges.”

Online commerce

Gingras said the implementation of a fully online sales process is currently hampered by the legislative framework in Quebec (among other provinces). But the pandemic has the potential to become an ally, in that it can help modernize these transaction methods.

“Legislative changes will be needed to bring this ambition to life,” said Gingras. “Several stages of the sale will have to be modified to allow for it to be entirely online.”

Setting-up the vehicle model, providing a price to the customer, and evaluating the trade-in can very well be done online today. But the most important element — the signature for the transaction — must take place in the dealership.

The government is admittedly more permissive at the moment due to the constraints of COVID-19, but this openness remains an exception applicable on a case-by-case basis.

It is an issue that other provinces are also struggling with, though COVID-19 may help pave the way for these changes.

(NB: Marc Beauchamp is a Montreal-based freelance writer. This article was originally in French.)

Related Articles
Share via
Copy link