ICT-Platform to Transform Car Dealerships to Regional Providers of Sustainable Mobility Services

Benjamin Wagner vom Berg, Jorge Marx Gómez, Alexander Sandau
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 12  •  2017  •  pp. 037-051
Aim/Purpose: The topic of this study is the ICT-enabled transformation of car dealerships to regional providers of sustainable mobility (e.g., car sharing).

Background: Car dealerships offer specific conditions that enable a sustainable mobility offer, based on individual motorized transport like car sharing. This is especially useful in small towns or rural areas where people’s mobility is strongly dominated by private cars, and public transport coverage is limited. However, these new mobility services are combined services with the need of a deep integration of information systems, and these services are not yet related to car dealerships and customer acquisition has to be supported.

Methodology: An empirical study with an inductive approach was chosen. The study consists of interviews with three focus groups of different stakeholders of car dealerships. Within the frame of the research project, “ReCaB – Regional Car-Balancing” a qualitative research approach was chosen. Within a design science approach the existing SusCRM architecture was adapted based on the elaborated requirements.

Contribution: A software architecture is proposed, where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) components to market new sustainable mobility offers are vital parts and existing information systems of car dealerships are integrated.

Findings: The basic feasibility of the establishment and customer acceptance has been demonstrated, at least in the area of car sharing within ReCaB. The execution in the car sharing field has already started and a number of car dealerships are already bringing their own offers to market. Major findings for the SusCRM architecture have been elaborated in a design science approach in the national German research project “Showcase for electro mobility”.

Recommendations for Practitioners: There is still no fully functional prototype developed for this specific use case and evaluated in the car dealership environment. An implementation only, based on own efforts, is difficult for car dealerships because of the dealership’s lack of know-how as well as tight IT budgets. However, this approach appears particularly successful in rural areas where public transport services are heavily declining. For full implementation, the presented ICT support is imperative.

Recommendation for Researchers: The research on the retailer level, especially in combination with a digital trans-formation by the use of ICT systems, is still fragmentary. Research in this area that both addresses sustainability goals on a general level and supports economical goals on the company level of automotive retailers would be useful.

Impact on Society: Creation of sustainable offers as a substitute or supplement for mobility based on their own car is a promising way to reduce negative effects of mobility. Enhancement of the mobility of the people in rural areas is leading to a more active lifestyle by reaching the leisure facilities, workplaces and educational institutions in a sustainable manner.

Future Research: In terms of the fast changing mobility landscape, especially on a technical level with the development of autonomous vehicles and digitalization of entire businesses new solutions are becoming accessible, that have to be integrated in further research.
car dealership, automotive retailer, car sharing, SusCRM, sustainability CRM, sustainable mobility, rural regions
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