As various segments of the automotive industry increase their utilization of e-commerce, the focus has been increasingly on customer satisfaction. This emphasis on customer satisfaction is a key trend being noted at the eAutoWorld conference being held here at the San Diego Convention center through October 5.

Michael Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, noted that a new relationship with the consumer was driving his company's online efforts. In his keynote address on Tuesday, Jackson characterized the new relationship between dealers and customers facilitated by the Internet with four elements:

  • Real cars and real prices online
  • Rapid response to consumer inquiries
  • Dedicated, trained Internet sales guides
  • A seamless transition from web to dealership

    Our research clearly shows that almost all customers who used the Internet in some way as part of their last vehicle purchase were very happy with the experience. They don't want to go back to the old way of buying a new vehicle," said Jackson. "In addition, the Internet has ushered in a another new age of cooperation between the dealers and manufacturers. Both sides are finding better ways to work together to satisfy the customer."

    Daron Gifford, head of Deloitte Consulting's automotive practice, told the gathering that the automobile manufacturers are also using e-commerce and Internet technology to refocus on customer satisfaction. According to Gifford, the automakers are working toward an accelerated order-to-delivery time, perhaps as low as five days.

    In addition, Gifford said that the use of the Internet in procurement, manufacturing and distribution could reduce the average selling price of a new car or truck by more than $3,000.

    "The Internet will enable carmakers in the U.S. and around the world to more closely align the supply of new vehicles with the actual demand. Reducing the amount of vehicles being held as inventory from their current 50- 70 day supply to, perhaps, a 15-20 day supply will save billions of dollars per year," Gifford said.