SAN FRANCISCO — Launched as a California broker site two and half years ago, Roadster took another step in its evolution to dealer solution provider this week. It announced the launch of a mobile app that brings its ecommerce platform into dealer showrooms.
Rudi Thun, the firm's COO, said the app is a crucial extension of the Roadster Express Storefront, which was launched this past July. Designed to run on a 13-inch iPad Pro, the app allows customers to begin structuring their deal in the showroom, or access a deal they started online.
“What became clear was that it would be even better if we could have a very seamless experience for the customer, both starting online as well as coming into the store and every transition associated with that,” Thun said. “There are a lot of people that will start online, but they want to come into a store for a test drive or they’ll start in store on a test drive and then they want to go home and do the transaction there. We wanted to have software and an experience for customers and the dealer that covered all those combinations of how people are going to do their transactions.”
The benefit of using the app inside the dealership, Thun noted, is that a sales associate can help guide the customer through the transaction on the Apple iPad. And anytime an associate makes an adjustment to the deal, whether it's down payment, finance, or the price of the vehicle, the displayed price and monthly payment changes accordingly.
“[We’ve spent] a lot of product energy and company time building out a very robust in-store app experience … where a product specialist in the store can work with the customer using the same software [they’ve been using],” said Rudi Thun, Roadster’s COO.
Through the Roadster Express Storefront, dealerships can offer their entire inventory of vehicles to consumers online. Consumers can design their deal anyway they want, whether it’s a cash, finance or lease purchase. Consumers have the option to select the finance source and finance incentive that fits their budget. They can also get take advantage of Kelley Blue Book's Instant Cash Offer if they have a trade-in and also purchase F&I products straight from the app.
Every Roadster Express Storefront is custom built for every dealership to match their transaction process and OEM brand. That process takes a couple of weeks, Thun said, noting that dealers are charged a monthly fee to maintain it. The software-as-a-service platform is hosted by Roadster, but vehicle shoppers can access the virtual storefront from the dealership's URL.
About eight dealerships have gone live on the Roadster platform since it launched this past July, and Thun said 20 storefronts should go live soon. He added that about 50 additional storefronts are in the queue.
As for the firm's evolution from broker site to dealer solution provider, Thun said the move was motivated by dealer feedback. “They kept saying, ‘It’s fine, but we want to be able to sell cars like you do,” he said. “After hearing it six or seven times, it began to make a lot of sense. They have the inventory. They also had their own financing and protection plans.”