While several automakers and dealer vendors quickly ramped up their digital retailing efforts as COVID-19 struck the U.S. industry early last year, their approaches differed greatly, as did the depth of their penetration into a purchase transaction. Some work more as internal lead generators, others expedite finance applications or allow cross-shopping between dealerships.
Toyota’s approach is very dealer-centric, explains Tim Bliss, general manager for retail transformation at Toyota Motor North America and the man leading the in-house development of SmartPath. One example: A prospective buyer can look at the inventory of only one dealer at a time.
“The biggest piece to really get this up and running was building that real-time inventory integration with the dealer’s DMS system, and that’s really the key to the whole platform,” Bliss explained. Pricing, incentives and availability update automatically.
When a consumer looking for a new Toyota lands on one of the web pages,