CIO50 2022 #26-50 Scott Andrews, Inchcape PLC
In 2019, the writing was on the wall for large automotive distributor, Inchcape.
Advancements in connected cars, autonomous vehicles sharing/subscription and electrification were impacting the company's core customer, the OEM.
Former group digital transformation director, Scott Andrews, tells CIO Australia research clearly showed that consumers wanted a seamless and personalised omni-channel experience that integrated in-person and digital services.
“People were also tired of haggling with dealers and wanted much greater transparency, especially when it came to price," he recalls.
To remain relevant to its key OEM brand partners, likes Toyota, BMW and Mercedes Benz, Inchcape would have to transform fast or risk being disrupted by the competition.
Andrews and his team developed the Digital Experience Platform (DXP), a proprietary omni-channel customer and dealer suite that provides access to configurable products and services from first search and comparison, through to after-sales care.
Build on Salesforce, it enables a combination of digital, in-person or blended interactions from online purchases with contactless delivery to combining online reservations with test drives and pickup in-store.
“The platform collects data from every type of customer interaction both online and offline with which predictive modelling is deployed to analyse customer behaviours. This supports both the dealer networks and crucially, Inchcape’s OEM partners by delivering a customer experience that anticipates their needs and exceeds their expectations,” Andrews explains.
The DXP is also globally scalable, it can be tailored to any market and OEM partner and can be deployed in multiple languages and currencies.
Andrews and his team deployed the DXP in early 2021 with Subaru Australia, which incubated the platform before it went live in 33 global markets with 12 OEM partners by July 1, 2022.
“Attracting millions of global users every month, the DXP is now central to how Inchcape serves customers and does business.”
To get the platform to market quickly, Andrews had to transform how his team operated and were managed. In less than a year, he scaled the team from just a handful of people in a basement of a Subaru dealership in Docklands, Melbourne, to a fully-fledged team with more than 200 people.
This was primarily achieved through two newly created Inchcape-owned Digital Delivery Centres (DDCs) based in the Philippines and Colombia, which work with engineering teams in Romania, Australia, the UK and India.
“Thanks to the DDCs, Inchcape has achieved a very fast speed of delivery, something that remains relatively uncommon in the automotive sector,” Andrews boasts.
A game changer
He stresses that the DXP, combined with internal digital and data analytics capabilities have been a "game changer".
Across the 30 markets where the DXP and new ways of working have been deployed, there has been a 16% rise in customer experience scores. There has also been a 6% lift in unique engaged visitors, a doubling of sales conversions, and a 6% higher average basket size per customer.
Meanwhile, the customer data flowing into Salesforce has enabled Inchcape to develop a ‘sales lead propensity scoring algorithm’, which was deployed across the business and used to deliver more than 50% of revenues within nine months.
“The integrated algorithm uses machine learning to dynamically optimise leads, with results being fed back into Salesforce. This enables front-line teams to be 40% more efficient. This is achieved because only the hottest sales leads reach the front line,” says Andrews.
The architecture of Salesforce, the Mulesoft integration platform, and DXP also enabled the algorithm to calculate and publish a result in Salesforce for the business to use within 8 seconds of a sales lead being created on any of the 170 OEM-branded websites.
“Inchcape now tracks all lead volume and temperatures in real-time globally with a model that continuously learns and improves. The DXP is also enabling more targeted communications via marketing automation, which is delivering higher engagement levels and conversion,” Andrews notes.
Inchcape’s modernised tech stack, together with DXP, helped the organisation land major deals with Mercedes-Benz and Geely Auto (China’s leading car manufacturer) in 2021, which the company forecasts will add significant revenues in the years ahead.
The next phase
Inchcape is now poised for the introduction of digital, direct-to-consumer sales, coinciding with announcements by the likes of Daimler in Europe, Volkswagen and Volvo that they plan to sell vehicles online and direct by 2030.
The company therefore needs to provide differentiated solutions for its 40+ OEM partners, accommodating those with widespread sales networks and those without.
“Most EV startups want to sell directly through new channels, including online, urban boutiques and pop-up stores. The DXP provides more variety in sales formats, which helps limit retail costs and create new business models that meet customer requirements for more convenient, personalised and digital relations in sales and after sales,” Andrews explains.
Relationships based on trust
He adds that delivering transformation on a global scale for a multi-national organisation like Inchcape demands healthy and influential working relationships that are based on trust.
“From the outset, a key focus of mine has been building and cultivating relationships across all divisions and levels," Andrews notes.
“I started from a place of humility with the group executive team, regional CEOs and MDs, and made sure to give each of these leaders a really good hearing.
“You have to ask questions, be curious and politely probe about the issues and opportunities that are specific to their region and remit. I made a point of being open, honest and authentic no matter what".