CARY, N.C. – When a global automaker launches an omnichannel used-car sales platform, as General Motors plans to do this spring with CarBravo, it undoubtedly requires a fair bit of back-end infrastructure. Impel, which provides digital merchandising services to the auto industry, said Wednesday it will be a part of that CarBravo infrastructure.
The company has been added to the automaker’s Dealer Digital Solution program, and its merchandising product suite has gained GM in-Market Retail Turnkey approval.
In connection with that, GM has brought Impel on as the 360-degree technology provider for the CarBravo platform.
Essentially, Impel will power the CarBravo platform’s merchandising and visualization, providing 360-degree vehicle views, consistent background imaging, consistent shot lists and more, Impel chief executive officer Devin Daly told Auto Remarketing.
“General Motors realizes that in this ultra-competitive retail environment, delivering consistent and engaging shopper experiences is more important than ever,” Daly said. “And obviously the CarBravo site’s similar to a Carvana; they’re going to be selling completely online.
“There’s going to be digital retail functionality, where consumers are making major purchase decisions without ever seeing or touching the vehicle in person,” he said. “And in that environment, effective, transparent, educational merchandising is more important than ever.”
So, what will that look like to the consumer browsing inventory on CarBravo? What Impel functionality would be evident?
“Almost all inventory will have our 360 functionality. And that’s obviously been a key part of the success that we’ve seen with other customers. When you can rotate a vehicle, when you can see it from every angle, inherently, you’re more likely to trust that seller,” Daly said. “You feel that seller’s being more forthcoming and transparent, and just intuitively, you’re more likely to convert and purchase.”
As part of that transparency piece, Impel is also providing automated damage tags on the CarBravo platform. It’s about being forthcoming, Daly said – showing the customer that gravel chip or bit of road rash, for example.
In addition to the 360-degree views, Impel will provide image backgrounds that are “anonymized,” clean and consistent.
That consistency can be paramount for today’s online shopper, Daly said.
“In addition to transparent experiences being critical, having consistency is really key. Consumers are used to shopping on places like Amazon and Warby Parker, where every product is photographed the exact same. The experience is consistent from one SKU to the next,” he said.
That’s not always the case in automotive, Daly said, where some vehicle listings might not have photos, and other listings might begin with interior images and others with exterior photos. That can lead to a “disjointed, terrible consumer experience,” he said.
“So, CarBravo decided to have consistent backgrounds and also have consistent shot lists and also have that consistent, rich 360-(degree) panoramic experience on all inventory,” Daly said.
Through CarBravo, consumers will be able to shop for pre-owned vehicles from both dealer inventory and a national central stock, the automaker said in its news release on the forthcoming launch.
Non-GM used vehicles will also be included in the program, which lets consumers shop online, in-store or a combination of both. GM already has begun dealer enrollment in the program and plans to launch the platform this spring.
Daly says the automaker is “well-positioned” in this digital space.
“To the point that they made in some of their press related to this, they’ve got access to more inventory than any other digital endemic does. They’ve got scale,” Daly said. “In a two-sided marketplace, having inventory will attract consumers.
“So, I think they’ve got that benefit. And the fact that they’re working with somebody like us to provide that consistent, rich experience, i think will position them well to win out and make a serious dent in the market.”