Standing out as digital needs keep increasing

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Technology company Solera added auto retail software to its product suite, which also includes fleet management and vehicle repair, when it acquired dealership technology company DealerSocket last year.

With DealerSocket, Solera now has a lineup that includes dealership management systems, customer relationship management systems, websites and inventory management tools. But it’s not yet a well-known name in retail technology.

I wrote this week that the company is working to be more visible among dealerships, as well as differentiate itself from other retail tech providers. It also is now in the DMS space after acquiring DealerSocket’s independent DMS system and Auto/Mate’s franchised dealership system, alongside companies such as CDK Global Inc., Reynolds and Reynolds Co. and Cox Automotive — all of which also have robust software offerings.

One way Solera plans to stand out is through Solera Auto Finance, which will offer used-vehicle loans as a “captive-like” lender for dealership customers. The company said participants in Solera Auto Finance will qualify for credits that can offset the cost of a DMS based on loan volume.

The importance of technology to a dealership’s operations can’t be overstated. It’s apparent every time I hear of new products or acquisitions from retail technology companies, trying to diversify portfolios or stay abreast of the latest trends — such as CDK and Reynolds acquiring digital retailing providers, or vehicle listings companies adding transactional and vehicle acquisition capabilities.

Given how fast auto retail is going digital, offering a new or innovative product may simply be required today.

“It gives us one more transformative solution that others don’t have,” Alberto Cairo, managing director of vehicle and fleet solutions for Solera, told me in March at the NADA Show in Las Vegas. “The value proposition that we believe that comes together with the DMS is very compelling. So we would see growth in our DMS platform, which of course gives us the ability to then sell additional value around the DMS to dealers.”