Guest blog – rise of the machines?

  31 May 2016

I was asked recently about the possibility for software to automate pricing adjustments to keep cars competitive online. Naturally questions such as “Does this make the sales manager obsolete?” and “Can you not just let the system make the adjustments automatically?” entered the conversation.

Technically the answer to the questions is yes, we could easily add the functionality to automate the daily adjustments in our systems, but I don’t think that is the burning question. While the tide is turning as the wider industry begins to recognise the need to accurately price to the live retail market using live data, the real question is: “Should you have a system that automates pricing adjustments?”

The answer to that question, in my humble opinion, is a categorical ‘no’.

You see, while automation can be an asset, what it cannot account for are the delicate nuances of the marketplace that require years of experience to master. Technically, a computer could paint the Mona Lisa with greater accuracy than Da Vinci could, but I very much doubt this ‘better’ example would end up in the Louvre. Why? Because, as people, we recognise the difference between something manufactured and something made by an artisan in their field. 

The thing is, while technology is making the rudimentary tasks of a sales manager easier every day, for the medium term at least even the most advanced technology cannot replace the knowledge and skill of a master craftsmen. In this case, it’s experienced managers and buyers who understand their brand and customer at an emotional level.

We see the best of the best ‘true digital retailers’ using data to enhance and amplify their decision making, not replace it. Just using data or gut feeling and experience are both equally flawed approaches, but together they can be formidable. There is an opportunity to put the best technology in the hands of the best people in the industry. Think Da Vinci, but with an iPad.

Chris Penny

Franchise Brand Director

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