The new vehicle market in India is growing at a rapid pace and is prompting dealerships to look for digital solutions to ease the process of selling and maintaining vehicles through their lifecycle. Bangalore-based Autoninja is offering a complete software solution in running dealerships more effectively, resulting in higher returns. Auto Tech Review caught up with Kshitij Saxena, Co-Founder and CEO, Autoninja to know about its product, the use of software in Indian vehicle dealerships, relevance and benefits to customers.
Autoninja is essentially a software product company that exclusively sells customer relationship management (CRM) software to automotive dealerships. The company is currently working with around 350 dealer groups across various vehicle segments, spread across 150 cities in the country.
Established in 2013 in Bengaluru by three founders including Saxena, to offer SME software solutions, Autoninja thrived on software coding expertise of its founders and aimed at creating a software product that would improve the sector’s workflow. Venture-funded with a $ 5 mn investment from its partners in 2015, the company turned profitable in February 2018.
Saxena said that Autoninja zeroed in on the automotive segment for two reasons. Firstly, automotive dealerships in Bangalore were the early adopters willing to leverage software to enable smooth business operations. Secondly, there wasn’t anyone solving problems faced by automotive dealerships that had large operations and multiple workflows to consolidate.
The automotive sector contributes around 7 % of India’s GDP, and the country is set to become the third largest car market globally by 2020-21, with sales reaching around 5 mn vehicles per year. Saxena said that around the same timeframe, merchandise worth $ 200 bn is expected to be routed through India’s dealerships for the new car market. The automotive industry is aware of this boom, and dealerships are striving to stay prepared when such an industry surge takes place.
Large new car dealerships, typically would employ around 2,000-2,500 people, clocking revenues of around ` 800-1,000 cr per year. The various specialised departments within these dealerships – sales, finance, insurance, accessories, spares, service and body repairs – work in isolation of one another and yet cater to the single outcome of serving the end-customer needs. Saxena said it is critical for a dealership to track a customer’s journey across all its departments, right from the point of enquiry to vehicle resale after its lifecycle.
Autoninja’s software product tracks a customer’s lifecycle with the dealership through its workflow software, which is divided into sales and service CRM that are available in the form of a mobile app and developed in-house. A dealership’s sales activities involve high capex due to investments needed for inventory as well as to set-up swanky showrooms. Such huge investments are not required for after-sales. This leads to around two-thirds of profit-after-tax coming from aftersales, against the one-thirds received from the sales side of business in a dealership, explained Saxena.
Since dealerships earn a higher amount from the aftersales business, Autoninja developed and offered its service CRM first to customers, followed by its insurance CRM product, and subsequently its sales CRM product. The company now offers a complete CRM product that is app-based and covers the entire workflow requirements of a new vehicle dealership.
The sales CRM brings databases of various departments and individuals related to the sales process together through the product, ensuring transparency on the progress of sales leads made. Saxena said the sales side of the product also covers the work needed to be covered by the finance departments that would enable the eventual sale of a vehicle. He stated that Autoninja’s product addresses the main negatives faced by customers in the Indian car-buying experience – lack of test drives and low organisational memory. From the dealership’s perspective, the sales CRM solves workflow issues, provides visibility about the performance of each employee as well as history and work-tracking of customers.
The service CRM covers both the service and insurance processes of a dealership, and is quite important from a marketing perspective. Until Autoninja’s solution came about, Saxena said a list with customer details would be shared with a call centre, which would serve servicing and insurance renewal reminders. Such a process would lead to large amounts of misses since some customers would receive a barrage of reminder calls, while many would not get even a single call for genuine reminders, he noted. The Autoninja CRM solves this problem by creating and managing customer databases effectively, and creating an organisation memory of customers, leading to reduced customer attrition rates. Saxena said that this product provides a single point of view of the central customer database. The use of the service CRM has ensured up to 40 % revenue hike for dealerships, he added.
Sales are based on logic and the CRM solutions offered by Autoninja help track the number of ratios that would not only help increase a dealership’s business, but also track the performance of employees for future reference. The low and high performance of employees can be scrutinised and new learnings can be facilitated to ensure better performance of the entire workforce.
On the product development front, Saxena said the Autoninja CRM is a cloud-based software that enjoys an advantage over on-premises software, which can be updated only when a new version in released. However, cloud-based software can evolve as-and-when required, which enables the developers at Autoninja to continuously offer product improvements, in terms of new features and clearing bugs, Saxena concluded.
TEXT: Naveen Arul