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Lexus, Toyota Take Control Of Digital Buying Platforms Amid Pandemic

Automotive brands are taking control of digital buying platforms by unveiling new experiences for the leasing, financing or purchasing of new vehicles amid the pandemic.

Lexus, in one case, is testing a program that it says will provide customers with greater control over how they buy their vehicles, more clarity into present inventory and live pricing, and the “flexibility to shop when and how they want,” according to a Monday (Feb. 1) announcement.

“Our goal is to create greater transparency with our guests and efficiency for our dealers – whether that’s in the showroom or online,” said Andrew Gilleland, group vice president and general manager, Lexus Division. “From increased flexibility for guests to enhanced technology for our dealers, Monogram provides our brand [with] the tools to anticipate guest expectations today and into the future.”

The brand’s Monogram technology offers a connected experience throughout, the dealership website and the brick-and-mortar dealership.

Customers can select the path that best meets their needs by beginning the car shopping experience online, marking their headway in the “digital garage” to resume where they left off at the dealer, or finishing their transaction either at home or at their Monogram dealer.

In the case of Lexus dealerships, the technology connects with financing via Lexus Financial Services (LFS), the customer relationship management system (CRM) and present inventory.

Monogram is being tested in some geographical areas with “plans to aggressively accelerate availability through 2021,” according to the announcement.

Toyota Motor North America (TMNA), which is Lexus’ parent company, revealed a new version of the SmartPath retail experience, which the brand says provides shoppers with flexibility in the way they purchase their next vehicles, according to a Monday (Feb. 1) announcement.

Similar to Lexus, Toyota’s SmartPath technology offers a connected experience throughout, the dealership website, and the brick-and-mortar dealership.

“Our goal is to ensure we create the best experience for our customers and our dealers,” said Jack Hollis, senior vice president, automotive operations, TMNA. “As our customers’ expectations evolve, SmartPath provides our dealers [with] the technology to exceed those expectations. Our shared mission is to make the experience of shopping, buying and owning a Toyota as easy and carefree as driving one.”

Lexus shoppers can begin their car buying process online, record their headway in a “digital garage” and resume where they left off at the dealer, or finish their purchase completely online. The new technology connects with financing via Toyota Financial Services (TFS), the CRM and present inventory.

Presently, customers can access SmartPath in certain geographical areas across more than 50 dealerships, with 50 more dealerships planning to roll it out in the spring. There are “plans to aggressively bring more SmartPath dealerships to market through 2021,” according to the announcement.

As previously noted in this space, if there’s one thing that dealers, automakers and industry analysts agree on, it’s that no matter what the economy does, an increasing share of vehicle sales will be conducted digitally.

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