Automotive digital retailing guide:

Driving a digital-first experience

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Rapid urbanization, evolving consumer behavior, and emerging technologies are reshaping the automotive industry, leaving us on the cusp of unprecedented change. Automotive businesses must leverage these dynamic changes and create dynamic opportunities or risk being left behind.

The industry's evolution demands a major reimagination of how vehicles will be sold, setting the stage for digital retailing. For some time now, the digitalization of automotive retail has been gaining momentum. The pandemic and post-pandemic landscape, however, has fueled an accelerated push to go digital, leaving automotive businesses scrambling to transform their retail operations and creating an industry-wide challenge, begging the question: How can automotive businesses create seamless, integrated, and optimal purchasing experiences for customers?

Incumbents must now reassess their entire retail experience and embrace change. Working hand-in-hand with a partner to transform existing retail processes into one that is holistic and seamless is one surefire method to overhaul automotive retail for businesses. As a global independent service provider that leverages the technological power of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and provides intuitive business solutions designed specifically for businesses in the automotive industry, we at Annata are committed to supporting automotive businesses deliver digital-first engaging experiences.

Retail transformation is the only response with disruptions set to continue on an upward trajectory along with uncertainties. Because of these uncertainties, automotive businesses must make the shift from traditional business methods to one that is connected and digitized, in order to not just keep abreast but to capitalize on the vast industry opportunities, future-proofing themselves.

Amidst the industry’s uncertainties- from the proliferation of e-commerce, new innovations, and mushrooming of startups offering mobility solutions, to the transformative paradigm swing- one thing is for certain; the future of automotive is digital and businesses must be prepared.

Magnus Norddahl
Chief Executive Officer, Annata


Magnus Norddahl
Chief Executive Officer

Table of contents


Evolution of automotive retailing

What is automotive digital retailing?

What it means for automotive businesses?

Benefits for automotive businesses

Benefits for customers

Selecting the right digital retailing features

Elements of a compelling platform to support digital retailing

Implementing digital retailing in your automotive business

Annata supporting businesses on their digital retailing journey

Annata customers

Annata at CES

About Annata















Evolution of automotive retailing

The automotive retail landscape has changed in seismic ways. 20 years ago, automotive retailing relied on a singular sales strategy- physical in-dealership presence. That vehicle purchasing experience is now in the rearview mirror.


If a customer was in the market for a car, for instance, they would have to physically visit a dealership and speak to a sales representative to understand the features of the car, perform a test drive, and discuss pricing and financing.

The customer had to repeat the entire process in every dealership until they were able to make a decision on the desired car to purchase. But all that is in the past.


Today’s digitally-savvy consumers expect the vehicle buying experience to be much more than a showroom visit and a test drive. This shift in vehicle buying behavior has placed an immense amount of pressure on dealers to create engaging and customer-first experiences through automotive digital retailing.

A new study by

Did you know?

Frost & Sullivan




With vast amounts of information at their fingertips, customers can perform their research online before walking through a dealership door. This means they are well-informed and already know exactly what they are looking for, the specifications of the vehicle, and how much it should cost. This allows the customer to walk into a dealership to only perform a test drive and sign paperwork.

estimates that by 2025, 6 million vehicles will be sold through online platforms.

According to

1 in 3 vehicles sales are projected to happen online in 2035.

6 million vehicles will be sold through online platforms.

estimates that by 2025,

1 in 3 vehicles sales are projected

to happen online in 2035.

Digital retailing is an all-encompassing sales process that enables a fully integrated and connected purchasing experience that makes the entire vehicle buying journey one that is more convenient, quick, and satisfying for customers.

Technology is injected into the car-buying process, enabling customers to commence their buying journeys online and conclude them in person.

If done right, automotive digital retailing synergizes physical and digital processes into one seamless experience enabling a fluid omnichannel digital retailing experience. Automotive businesses are also looking to produce unique experiences for their online customers through website tools such as live chats, AI chatbots, financing calculators, and 360 vehicle views to help with creating an elevated online vehicle-buying experience for customers.

What is automotive digital retailing?


What it means for automotive businesses

While the physical showroom will continue to exist, its format will be changed. Dealers are exploring retail models in an attempt to strike a hybrid balance. Digital retailing solutions are meant to complement existing retailing efforts instead of replacing them. It has the power to convert members of a vehicle dealership’s sales team into online retail agents if used to its capacity.

The power of a digital retailing solution is that it allows customers to engage with your dealership in their preferred method.

By using a digital retailing platform, dealership sales teams will be able to both assist customers in-person and connect with them online via the dealer’s website. Overall, dealerships have nothing to lose and everything to gain from implementing an online retailing solution.

Automotive digital retailing elements

To ensure you have a frictionless automotive digital retailing journey in place for your customers, your dealership will require a running digital retailing system that:

Did you know?

in 2021 found that

Auto Trader


Survey data from

72% of 5,000 people surveyed find digital car buying appealing, which is up from 61% in 2020.

Benefits for automotive businesses

Car dealerships that have adopted automated vehicle purchasing processes into their sales funnel are experiencing positive improvements in their sales performance. Some of the benefits of automotive digital retailing for dealerships include:

Automating the vehicle purchasing process does not just benefit dealership owners but the entire company as well. The right platform that offers a good mix of tools and applications can generate a wallet of advanced consumer information unlocked from data collected through the website. This can help automotive businesses drive modelling of customer predictability and discover actionable insights that reveal key purchasing preferences and patterns that can ultimately attract more customers and win sales.

If done right, automotive digital retailing synergizes physical and digital processes into one seamless experience enabling a fluid omnichannel digital retailing experience. Automotive businesses are also looking to produce unique experiences for their online customers through website tools such as live chats, AI chatbots, financing calculators, and 360 vehicle views to help with creating an elevated online vehicle-buying experience for customers.


Making the shift to automation will empower employees by removing a lot of the arduous and time-consuming tasks in existing sales processes, thus eliminating tedious administrative tasks and shortening the sales cycle.

This both frees up more time for them to focus on closing more deals and takes costs out of the process. A recent study by Frost & Sullivan estimates that nearly 825,000 new vehicles were sold online globally in 2019 and by 2025, this is expected to swell to 6 million vehicles.

Today, almost all major vehicle brands has implemented some form of online sales functions through their website to allow customers to make purchases online and include Mercedes Benz, Ford, Toyota, BMW, and Hyundai among others.

Did you know?

offer a range of digital services, such as enabling consumers to complete a finance application online (83%), place a reservation online (71%), or apply for a guaranteed part-exchange valuation (41%). Click and collect (86% 2021 vs 15% 2019), home delivery (85% 2021 vs 30% 2019), and video chat (83% 2021 vs 28% 2019) saw the biggest growth in adoption, with more than 80% of retailers introducing these services since 2019.



found that 8-in-10 car retailers now

Studies conducted by

found that 8-in-10 car

retailers now offer a range of digital services, such as enabling consumers to complete a finance application online (83%), place a reservation online (71%), or apply for a guaranteed part-exchange valuation (41%). Click and collect (86% 2021 vs 15% 2019), home delivery (85% 2021 vs 30% 2019), and video chat (83% 2021 vs 28% 2019) saw the biggest growth in adoption, with more than 80% of retailers introducing these services since 2019.

negotiating elements such as pricing trade-in, financing, and warranty without visiting a dealership.

72% of people are comfortable understanding all the options and features available without a dealership visit.

Benefits for customers

While digital retailing brings vast benefits to automotive businesses, its impact on customers is multifold as well. This is mainly due to evolving consumer demands.

Consumers today want to feel empowered through simplified and personalized shopping experiences that help them make smart purchasing decisions Automotive customers want to feel like they are placed in the driver’s seat, giving them total control of the entire purchasing process.

Equipping customers with a diverse set of digital capabilities that create impactful experiences can not only attract existing customers but hook potential new ones as well, all while driving enhanced brand loyalty.

elements such as pricing trade-in, financing, and warranty without visiting a dealership.

72% of people are comfortable understanding all the options and features available without a dealership visit.


Did you know?

Here are some primary automotive digital retailing benefits for customers:


54% of people are comfortable negotiating

According to


54% of people are comfortable

According to

Selecting the right digital retailing features

A hybrid retailing experience should offer a clear, concise, and well-designed purchase path that allows customers to navigate at their speed through online and in-store processes, giving them full control to self-direct themselves throughout the entire vehicle buying process.

Purchasing a vehicle typically involves numerous steps and the exact process will differ from one customer to another, but the capabilities of a digital retailing solution should include the following basic features:


Elements of a compelling platform to support digital retailing

Websites are now the first thing customers look for when seeking information about an automotive brand. As the first point of contact, a website must not only be able to communicate the brand’s messaging but also make the customer feel like they are actually interacting with the brand. This requires a personalized website that is able to create an enhanced experience for customers.

Here are a few must-have website features for any automotive business:

Create an immersive and appealing website

Smart AI chatbots

Added features

Compelling content

Put customers in the driver's seat




Create an immersive and appealing website

The website is the most important element within your digital retailing strategy. Your website must include images and videos that are of high resolution, engaging, and in adherence to branding guidelines to ensure consistent brand identity that jive with the look and feel of the website. The website must be user-friendly with easy-to-navigate features to create a seamless and all-encompassing purchasing journey. Prioritize ensuring consistent functionality across all device types, be it smartphones, laptops, or PCs.

2. Smart AI chatbots



Smart AI chatbot

With the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, smart chatbots on the website can bring ease to customers who are looking for quick support or need quick responses to their queries. Chatbots will for example be able to help customers with any questions pertaining to sales, make appointments to meet with a salesperson, or book a test drive. Having a smart chatbot allows customers to interact with a brand through its dealers from the comfort of their own homes and at any time of the day.

3. Added features



Added features

Customers love when brands go above and beyond to help them with their purchasing decision. A vehicle comparison feature that allows customers to compare various vehicles at a single time can help customers zero in on a vehicle that best matches their requirements. Financing information, loan calculators, and credit application services invite customers to configure and purchase a vehicle that matches their needs and budget.

4. Compelling content


Compelling content


With information readily at our fingertips, the very first thing a potential customer does when purchasing a vehicle is research. A brand’s website must host accurate, high-quality information and rich content that can be of benefit to the website visitors. The website must contain information that is able to address most if not all purchasing questions and even create added value for the customer to build assurance.

5. Put customers in the driver's seat



Put customers in the driver's seat

Most customers would never purchase a vehicle without test-driving it first. However, getting them to actually come into the dealership physically for a test drive needs to be a priority. This can be done through Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) features on the website that help customers experience the vehicle inside and out.


Implementing digital retailing in your automotive business

Creating an omnichannel experience does not have to be an arduous task but it does, however, require careful planning and buy-in from all levels of an automotive business.

Here are some tips to guide you through deploying a more synergized digital retailing experience:

Getting all levels of employees onboard

Invest in business solutions

Improve brand visibility online

Quick response time


Outlining goals together with employees is critical in implementing a robust digital retailing experience for any automotive business. The goals, from the get-go, must be clear and have received buy-in from various departments. This ensures a much smoother adoption of new tools and systems.

Delivering new omnichannel approaches that embody the brand’s value will require staff to be trained to ensure they have integrated customer contact management know-how. With employees excited and determined to deliver a more holistic experience for customers, customers will feel a lot more inclined to work with the sales representatives and increase their chances of making a purchase.

Getting all levels of employees onboard

Embedding comprehensive digital retail experiences in an automotive business requires a well-thought out strategy and approach. Working with a partner who can bring tools and software tailored to the needs of your business to deliver a more digital retail experience is a primary way to go about doing this.

A partner will enable automotive businesses to focus on their existing work while the partner works on transforming the entire retailing process. A partner will also be able to have a more holistic and uncompromised or unbiased view of the needs of the business and match it against what customers are looking for.

Invest in business solutions


A primary method to improve online brand visibility is to incorporate digital marketing efforts into the marketing strategy. Brands must also learn to utilize data to deliver more targeted messaging so that customers feel they are receiving personalized communications.

Marketing content must also be tailored to the look and feel of the website yet is engaging enough that it attracts customers to the website. This can include videos, images, and even blogs that create a strong pull factor.

Improve brand visibility online

Customers today want swift responses and actions. The latest digital tools and systems are able to create expeditious service and delivery across the entire vehicle purchasing journey. This speeds up the entire purchasing process, allowing more time for businesses to close deals quicker, thus increasing sales and profits.

Automating processes and doing away with tedious paperwork only creates a better customer experience and increases brand reputation. Speed and ease of delivery are features that consumers and automotive businesses must strive for when deploying new technologies.

Quick response time


As automotive businesses are increasingly switching their focus to a hybrid retailing journey, they must first ensure that a well-implemented and integrated business solution is in place to build a solid foundational layer on which digital retailing services can be built. Retailing today extends beyond dealerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), importers, distributors, and retailers reimagining their business models to remain relevant. This makes identifying a solutions provider that provides the functionalities that can support a well-connected retailing journey imperative.

Through annata365, Annata is able to equip automotive businesses with the necessary capabilities to leverage the full power and open up new possibilities in all aspects of digital retailing, helping them digitally transform their operations and processes. Acting as a backbone for automotive businesses looking to infuse digital retailing experiences into their purchasing journeys, annata365 helps harness future-fit infrastructure to support the application of additional technologies.

Annata supporting businesses on their digital retailing journey

The solution suite helps with enhancing existing digital capabilities to drive an end-to-end e-commerce journey that consumers demand and that allows the business to remain relevant in today’s landscape. annata365 puts in place all the necessary building blocks that will allow for a more cohesive, convenient, and smoother digital retailing solution application to create optimized digital interactions, experiences, and transactions.

Against the backdrop of swiftly changing consumer behaviors, automotive businesses must seek to meet this changing demand by harnessing new technologies using innovative applications and prioritize operational efficiencies organization-wide, all while simultaneously ensuring smooth supply chain orchestration using critical and optimized infrastructure.


Annata customers

Following are some of Annata’s customer stories that underpins the need for a solid foundational layer to ensure a seamless digital retailing experience.

A division of an American motorcycle manufacturer envisions creating a new generation of motorcycles. It uses products and experiences that converge the power and technology of electric vehicles (EV) with the unique soulful connection that comes from an analog machine.

About the customer:

The customer’s challenge:

The manufacturer needed to implement a robust business management system that was nimble enough to manage its supply chain, production, parts, inspections, and dealer network. As part of their future-proofing efforts, they needed a platform to bolster them as they navigated into the future, providing them with the flexibility required to digitize their entire business. They needed a holistic solution that could streamline operations and consolidate everything in a single platform.

Why Annata:

Through Annata’s complete set of industry functionalities, the manufacturer will benefit from synergized and digitized operations. Annata’s high level out-of-the-box solution to manage the motorcycles and parts inventory, as well as their global dealer/agent network enabled them to execute their strategic vision to begin their push to online sales.


A global automotive manufacturer launched its new car subscription program for the Brazilian market, providing alternatives to conventional ownership models, enabling mobility experience without the upfront cost of ownership and the ongoing uncertainty of maintenance costs.

About the customer:

The customer’s challenge:

To roll out the subscription-based plan, the car manufacturer needed to provide its customers with a unique experience in which the customer would be able to execute a 100% online contract through its new website. For this model to work, it needed a solution that would meet its entire commercial, financial, legal, and after-sales process and would also be integrated into its dealers and manufacturing plant, ensuring a smooth and efficient operation and customer experience.

Why Annata:

Annata enabled the manufacturer to execute targeted online marketing, enticing buyers to select and customize the vehicle and payment plan directly from the website which then performs data validation, credit analysis, legal analysis, and digital execution of the contract. With its digital framework ready, the manufacturer was able to re-invent themselves and offer flexible short-term leases, vehicle subscription services, and simplified contract extensions at cost-effective terms through their digital platforms with almost zero human interaction.


Annata at CES

Annata participated in CES 2023 and shared a demonstration to explain how annata365 is being used as a backbone on which digital retailing solutions are built for automotive businesses.

Built on the Microsoft Cloud, the demonstration shared how the solution offers a complete end-to-end approach for automotive OEMs, national sales and marketing companies, and dealer groups, enabling them to engage with customers in a hybrid digital and physical space. annata365 will help power a more enhanced, personalized, and seamless vehicle purchasing experience for consumers through virtual dealerships, creating a compelling and interactive digital retailing journey.

With Microsoft Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Azure as the foundational layer, Annata’s solution for the Automotive industry offers an agile, cloud-based, and scalable platform for automotive import, distribution, retail, and after-sales activities.

Watch demo below:

“We know our customers want to provide a seamless, quality experience when engaging with their end-customers in the metaverse as well as in a physical showroom. Currently, this is a complex and time-consuming exercise – both in terms of selecting technical solutions and then integrating them with the core automotive business processes. We want to accelerate the adoption of virtual dealerships and ensure our customers take advantage of an integrated, end-to-end solution, transforming the vehicle-buying experience.”

Johann Jonsson
Chairman and co-founder Annata


Annata is a business solutions provider that empowers businesses on their digital transformation journey through cloud-based solutions. Annata’s global industry expertise provides organizations with a business platform that offers innovative solutions, strong services, and unparalleled value to businesses in the automotive industry.

Annata provides functionality that helps businesses deal with industry challenges and transforms their existing operations and processes to adapt to and embrace new opportunities.

For more information about Annata, please visit:

Connect with us to find out how Annata can help you power a more digital retailing experience for your automotive dealership.

Digitally transform your business with Annata

Equipment webinar: "A365's role in heavy equipment business transformation" on Nov 16, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. CET. [Ended]
Automotive webinar: "Adapting automotive retail to the digital age" on Nov 14, 2023 at 3 p.m. CET [Ended]