Industry quick to embrace real-time data in response to record market pace
At a time when the market is moving at a record pace, the industry is recognising the significant commercial benefits of real-time data sharing and the huge inefficiency caused by legacy data feeds. It comes in response to the launch of Auto Trader’s powerful new stock management solution, Auto Trader Connect, which has been designed to enable retailers to update multiple back-end and consumer facing systems with advanced vehicle data in real-time.
The first phase of the solution, Retail Essentials, will be available to all of Auto Trader’s retailer partners as part of all advertising packages as standard. However, after being offered early access in December, over 2,500 retailers have already signed up to receive the benefits of real-time data sharing. In order to benefit from this transformative change in the industry, third party system providers, such as stock management and retailer website providers, are in the process of integrating the service into their platforms. Such are the benefits of the new solution, over 70 have either already done so or are in the process of doing so, making it available to thousands of retailers.
“At best, data feeds threaten potential margins, but at worst, lead to missing sales altogether”
When data isn’t shared between systems in real-time, selling channels can quickly become out of sync, resulting in inconsistencies in key details, as well as incorrectly advertising vehicles that are either no longer in stock or have already been sold, leading to consumer frustration. These inconsistencies or errors are often the result of retailers having to manually update and rekey the same detail across multiple systems. With Auto Trader Connect, retailers are able to create and manage their stock within their current stock management system, which then seamlessly connects and syncs across key selling channels. It not only ensures consistency, but also massively reduces time and effort.
Real-time connectivity is also critical for retailers to be able to respond to an exceptionally fast-moving retail market. Dealer management systems (DMS) typically rely on data feeds which run at limited times of the day. Whether they want to make price adjustments, amend a mistake or to remove a vehicle once it’s been sold, retailers often have to wait hours before their feeds are updated, potentially resulting in frustrated consumers, missed sales opportunities, and reduced margins. Auto Trader Connect’s real-time link between systems enables changes to be made and shared across key selling-channels instantly.
James Weston, Robins & Day’s chief executive, explained the impact these limitations had on his business, and why data feeds are no longer suitable: “Simply put, relying on data feeds was causing us huge inefficiencies and ultimately put our business at a commercial disadvantage. As well as costing us valuable time and effort in manually correcting mistakes or inconsistencies, the data feed lags severely hampered our ability to react to changes in the market. At best this threatened potential margins, but at worst, it led to missing sales altogether.”
Compounding the issue, 45% of retailers are adding the incorrect vehicle spec into their DMS due to not having access to accurate data. As part of Auto Trader Connect, retailers will have access to Auto Trader’s industry leading vehicle data, enabling them to easily create adverts and manage their stock with up to the minute market data.
James added: “As well as significantly improving efficiencies, the real-time connectivity of Auto Trader Connect, coupled with access to Auto Trader’s advanced vehicle taxonomy, has also ensured we’re pricing correctly based on the live retail market. Not only are we able to react to changes as they happen, but it’s also optimising our margins.”
For other retailers, the key benefit of removing data feeds from the process is the competitive edge it offers their business in meeting the increased demand in the market. Sean Booth, Managing Director of Parkway Motor Group, explains: “It’s hard to appreciate just how much data feeds were slowing us down until we were able to phase them out of our business. We were wasting so many hours, either having to manually overwrite inconsistencies, or simply waiting for changes to take effect. In today’s market, where there is so much competition for the record consumer demand out there, any delay has the potential to hit our bottom line. Real-time connectivity simply makes us faster – faster to respond to changes, faster to get our stock in front of car buyers, and faster to make a sale. We’ve already seen a marked difference to our turnover.”
Commenting on the launch of Auto Trader Connect, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Commercial Product Director, said: “Even with access to real-time data, relying on data feeds is comparable to driving with the handbrake on. It impedes your ability to react to changes in the market, and in effect, your ability to secure the greatest margin for your stock. We wanted to utilise the full scale of our data to help our partners move away from this outdated and inefficient technology and to put them in the strongest position to capitalise on the strength of today’s retail market. We have been overwhelmed by the response, and in particular third-party providers who after seeing the results for their customers, have been quick to roll it out across their platforms.”
‘Working with Auto Trader on offering this to all our dealers was an easy decision to make’
Since offering early access in December, over 70 third-party system providers have either already integrated it into their platforms, or are in the process of doing so, including many of the largest providers.
Ollie Moxham, CEO for Click Dealer, explained why integrating Auto Trader Connect was an easy decision to make: “Partnering with Auto Trader to upgrade all mutual customers to real-time data syncing was a welcome enhancement to our service offering. We could see the success our dealers who were using this system were having, so to work with Auto Trader on offering this to all our dealers was an easy decision to make. Traditional data feeds work to reduce double keying between systems, but the time delay between feeds can lead to inefficiencies, which in today’s very fast-moving retail landscape can have major implications for our customers' bottom lines. Live vehicle availability, real-time pricing updates and access to Auto Trader’s data and insights will make creating and updating adverts much faster and easier than ever before for our dealers.”
It was a similar view shared by Velizar Dimitrov, Director of E-Dynamix: "Delivering a single log-in solution for our customers had been a priority for some time, so we were more than happy to hear about the API solution available from Auto Trader. Data feeds offered a means of sharing stock records between systems, but the time delays between feeds and the limitations of what data could be shared wasn’t suitable for the pace of today's market, where retailers rely on live data to make smarter decisions faster. This is 21st century technology, and the two-way transfer of data opens many new opportunities for retailers to embed the quality and variance of Auto Trader’s data in their own systems. It makes everything so much faster, pricing is synchronised and we’re already working with customers to automate processes, saving them even more time."
For more information or to request access, retailers can visit https://trade.autotrader.co.uk/auto-trader-connect.
 Applies to core advertising packages, which refers to customers on Bargain, Basic, Starter, Standard, Enhanced, Super and Ultra packages, but excludes bespoke contracts
 Analysis of 252,000 advertised vehicles where OEM data was available, comparing spec added by the retailer to OEM factory fit vehicle data. The combined percentage factoring in network franchises, non-network franchises and independents is 55% of spec was correctly specified
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