Buying a car used to be a big hassle.
But it can be easy. And some retailers simplify the process even more with a little help from digital solution platforms.
One of these is CarMax. With more than 200 stores across 41 states, CarMax is actually the largest used-car retailer in the country. CarMax sells approximately 800,000 vehicles each and every year.
The retailer employs around 27,000 people and uses Adobe Experience Manager to make the car-buying experience as smooth and simple as possible.
Using the latest technology, CarMax, fronted by its senior product manager, Jason Farneth, has been carrying out an omnichannel transformation; a new experience of personalizing the car-buying journey to make it as easy as possible for customers to drive away with a smile on their faces as well as for car owners to sell them.
“Whether people want to shop online or come into a store and see the car in person,” said Jason, “CarMax empowers customers to move between channels seamlessly – that’s the point of omnichannel.
“Customer journeys will vary, but the goal is the same: helping customers drive off in a car they love. Our omnichannel experience is a true differentiator in the industry.”
One of the more annoying aspects of the car-buying process is dealing with important paperwork. “A car is typically the second biggest purchase the average person makes in their lifetime,” added Jason, “so it’s inevitable there’s going to be a lot of paperwork.”
In order to make paperwork more manageable, “CarMax created the eDocs team to reduce the number of forms used across the company and make them more manageable,” said Jason. “As we started digging into the opportunity, we found that paperwork requirements vary by state making the project complex.”
CarMax deals with 24 million documents each year; it handles an average of 30 docs per transaction. Even the simplest of tweaks would be able to make a huge difference at this scale.
To manage this huge amount of work, they needed the right digital partner. “We needed flexibility and speed to create and generate documents on such a large scale,” added Jason.
“We reviewed several technology suites for digital workflows and e-signature capabilities, and Adobe rose to the top. Its sophisticated APIs give us a lot of control over the solution and allows us to automate everything.”
So they found the right solution. But where to start?
The CarMax team decided to get the Adobe ball rolling with payment extension letters – which are sent to its customers that are facing difficult circumstances and need to delay a payment.
Payment extension letters have few data points and minimal personalization characteristics, so it was the ideal starting point for CarMax.
These types of letters are time-sensitive and so getting them out ASAP is one of their priorities. ““After Hurricane Harvey [back in 2017], many customers requested payment extensions while their insurance claims were being processed,” said Jason. “A few weeks in, we began to deliver the letters through Adobe Sign and saw completion time drop by 80%.
“Because customers received an email and could sign electronically right away, the average turnaround became one or two days instead of 10.”
Second on their do-to list was all of their sales docs – that big bulk of docs that each make up the key to turning on the roaring engine of better car-buying experiences whether it’s online or offline.
And these include legal docs like the rules that govern car dealerships, forms that need to be printed on the right kind of paper, given to customers in a specific order, stored in the right way – think of it as the quality, respect, and care that Mr Carson provides the family on Downton Abbey but without the conspicuous display of ostentatiousness.
Of course, these processes used to all be done by hand; CarMax is now generating these documents digitally and automatically.
They can only do this thanks to Adobe Experience Manager and its Forms capabilities. This is used to create form templates that can be personalized by its function and stored centrally for easy access.
This translates into store associates being able to easily access them, and thanks to Forms and Sign, they can send agreements all electronically, and all signature-ready.
“For anyone who has used Adobe Sign, this is an incredibly quick and easy process,” said Jason, “whereas before, associates had to guide customers through the contracts and use those yellow ‘sign here’ flags, it’s now all managed seamlessly in Adobe Sign and Adobe Experience Manager Forms.”
This has suppressed the time it takes for customers to drive away from the dealership. “Digital sales documents transform the car-buying experience,” added Jason. “I remember talking with the first customer to use our e-signature experience. She signed everything during a lunch break at work, we delivered at 4:30PM, and she left the office in a beautifully loaded GMC Yukon.”
Driving customer choice
The expansion into omnichannel has provided car buyers and sellers with more choices in how they interact with the retailer. Because the documentation process has become digitized, customers can look at, review, and sign most of the key documents online, so by the time they arrive at the dealership they can be driving away in a few minutes.
It also meant more protection when it came to buying and selling during the pandemic. It also supports CarMax’s curbside pick-ups. “We started rolling out e-signatures early in the pandemic,” said Jason. “It was good timing. We wouldn’t have been able to offer these new delivery models without Adobe Sign and Adobe Experience Manager Forms.”
Without the need to actually enter the dealership, customers have been able to test drive cars, as well as finalize the purchase, making the experience contact-free and socially distanced.
With paperwork comes errors. Much of these errors are simply a result of human imperfection. Using digital workflows and e-signatures lightens a lot of the weight of paperwork processes, which adds to the workload and as a result leads to higher possibilities of errors being made.
“Automating sales documentation with Adobe has resulted in 30% less rework related to missing signatures or inaccurate details,” affirmed Jason. “Plus, CarMax is reducing the cost of paper, toner, and physical storage required for millions of documents every year while making a more seamless experience for our associates.”
Even car dealerships have been able to pivot on digital strategies and, in terms of CarMax and their help with AEM, have reacted strongly to the events of the pandemic to make sure that their customers can continue to buy and sell cars with as much protection and confidence as other industries have been able to provide.