Technology sharing is making its way into the retail sector with the announcement from Edmunds.com that it will make its CarCode texting tool available for free for all car dealers. Megatrends spoke to Edmunds.com’s Chief Executive, Avi Steinlauf, on the move and the potential for the technology moving forward.
CarCode is a cloud-based SMS texting platform designed specifically for the needs of car dealerships. It allows dealers to receive texts from customers and respond directly from their mobile phones. So far, the response from dealers has been positive. “It’s still early days, but we are getting thousands of sign-ups and many inquiries from dealers about whether they can use the platform for service updates and other types of communications with customers,” explained Steinlauf. “The answer to that is of course ‘yes’ and we are enthusiastic about all the manifestations of the CarCode platform that will have their place in a world increasingly focused on texting.”
Text messaging is becoming a popular means of communication between dealers and customers. Velocify research has shown that dealers who send three or more text messages after making initial contact with a buyer can increase conversion rates by 328%. According to research from Edmunds.com, at least one-third of all car shoppers said that they prefer to contact a car dealer via text message, as opposed to phone or e-mail.
“Texting has taken off around the globe and the US may not be in the lead in terms of texting applications. That form of communication that doesn’t require a lot of infrastructure so it has become universal,” observed Steinlauf.
For dealers, it offers greater opportunities in terms of maintaining relationships. “Dealers are interested in communicating with shoppers wherever they are, and more and more people are gravitating toward texting as a primary form of communication,” he said. “It’s in dealers’ best interest to make sure that they are there, and, with our free offering of Edmunds.com CarCode, we’ve made it very easy for them to get there.”
Free for all
Edmunds.com’s decision to share the technology that it developed follows similar announcements from the automotive industry. Tesla announced last June that it would make its hundreds of patents freely available as part of efforts to encourage EV development and interest. More recently, Toyota said it would similarly make its 5,600 fuel cell-related patents available for use, royalty free, by other companies.
“In today’s business world, we see a lot of valuable assets being made available for free,” commented Steinlauf. “It makes sense for each of the companies involved, especially the leaders among us, because we each want to see our technology become pervasive. Toyota is sharing its R&D around hydrogen, wanting to make a big play so that the rising tide will lift their boat.”
At Edmunds.com, Steinlauf pointed out that the company has offered its information and services without charge from the early days of the Internet when it went online in 1994. “Now, we not only allow car shoppers and others to access our data on our free website, but also we make essentially all of our vehicle data available through our API. We have been on the cutting edge, and already are seeing others follow our lead,” he added. “This accessibility and leadership has bolstered our prominence in the space. Sharing CarCode for free is consistent with our long-standing strategy and brand image. We want CarCode to be the preeminent platform through which dealers and car shoppers text each other. This is a great opportunity to provide a needed service from a leadership position, and we’ve gotten a great reception from thousands of dealers already.”