Understanding how future technologies will affect your customer base and ultimately your business is crucial

Two of the most popularly attended seminars at the recent Autocare 2023 in Brisbane were focused on how future technologies will affect the automotive aftermarket and what the expectations of future consumers will be.
Repco Authorised Service National Manager, Peter Rogers, and ADAS Solutions Australia Director, Adrian Parkes, hosted the ‘Emerging Vehicle Technology – Current and Future Opportunities’ seminar, while Supercheap Auto Managing Director, Benjamin Ward, and mycar Managing Director, Adam Pay, hosted a seminar entitled, ‘The Customer of the Future.’
Peter’s overall message was that contrary to some of the negative commentary around lack of opportunity, the future for the automotive aftermarket is bright.
He said businesses should “embrace, accept and adapt” to emerging technologies across electric vehicles, connectivity, connected vehicles and Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS), while refuting the common misbelief that EVs will spell the end of the spare parts and service industry.
“Yes, the number of parts will be less, but it is expected that the parts that replace them will be of a higher cost,” Peter said, while highlighting that there are already more than 64,000 parts currently stocked at Repco and NAPA Auto Parts to service electric and hybrid vehicles in Australia.
He said cooling products and filters would become big markets for EV, and also pointed out there will be opportunities in the specialised tools market and in training technicians.
While EVs have dominated the commentary, Peter believes connectivity and ADAS will have a far greater impact on the automotive aftermarket sector in the short to medium term.
Peter said that one in five cars in the US and Europe already have some level of connectivity technology and that by the end of the decade, it will be closer to 50 percent. He said the adoption of ADAS applications will track at a similar rate and customers will expect workshops to know how to service and repair cars with this technology.
Meanwhile, Benjamin told his seminar audience that digital channels would drive the customer of tomorrow, explaining that ecommerce would provide one of the biggest threats to the local marketplace, particularly from huge internationals shipping direct from China.
He pointed out that Australians spend on average six hours and 13 minutes a day on the Internet and that they gather a lot of recommendations and information from social media.
“You need to adapt your focus to where your customers are and I promise you that your biggest emerging customers are coming to you through digital channels,” Benjamin said.
The key message of Adam’s presentation was to ‘get to know your customer.’
“We need to have the knowledge of who they are and just as importantly who they are not,” said Adam, who believes businesses should be making that change of attitude about their customers today.
He said today’s customers do their research.
“When a customer gets to the store they probably know more about the product or service they want than the team member does. They expect the staff to be knowledgeable and they want to engage on a much more genuine, authentic and personal level,” Adam concluded.