Tomax links its Retail.net and CXA offerings to WHI's Nexpart modules to improve customer service for automotive retailers.
Enterprise retail solutions
provider Tomax and WHI Solutions, a
specialist in technology for automotive retailers and wholesalers, are
integrating key solutions to improve the customer experience of the automotive
Announced July 9, the partnership integrates the Tomax Retail.net and CXA
(Customer Experience Architecture) applications with the WHI
Nexpart e-catalog and e-commerce modules.
"Most retail POS (point of sale)
solutions don't understand the concept of order management," said Steve
Klingler, senior vice president of Tomax. "Our system has the unique
capacity to perform order management in the service retail space, which
includes automotive service retailers."
Klingler said automotive service retail is a high-touch customer service
environment that requires live associates to interact with and assist
"Associates can be enabled with technologies that help them offer
recommendations, locate products and place special orders," Klingler said.
"In retail, it is often said the 'magic moment' occurs during the
transaction. We think this is after the magic moment; for us it's during the
interaction that leads to the transaction."
According to Klingler, the integrated Tomax-WHI
product suite will enable automotive service retailers to provide a rich
customer experience as soon as a shopper pulls his or her car into the parking
"The retailer can meet the customer in the lot and start consulting and
selling products and services right there," he said. "We make the
experience personalized based on a retailer's image and the type of experience
they want to offer."
While the Tomax solutions perform tasks such as merchandise planning, store
operations management, CRM, work force
optimization and exception-based performance management, the WHI
modules will manage data content functions, such as parts ordering, as well as
e-commerce and ERP tasks.
Kevin Culpepper, vice president of data content solutions for WHI,
said the Tomax partnership will help automotive service retailers stay current
with their technology infrastructure.
"Most players [in the automotive service technology market] are small,
regional systems providers running legacy systems," Culpepper said. As a
result, "Automotive services retailers are years behind the rest of the market."
Brett McVey, director of service retail for Tomax, said service retailers
differentiate themselves in how they interact with customers before the
McVey said for automotive service retailers, these interactions can include
greeting and identifying customers, identifying customer vehicles and vehicle
service histories, obtaining information on recommendations and bulletins from
vehicle manufacturers, and creating and delivering service price estimates.
"It's not configuration management, but a framework to integrate these
requirements with other requirements that don't differentiate the retailer from
their competitors," McVey said.
George Lawrie, an analyst with Forrester Research, said the Tomax-WHI
integration will help automotive service retailers create the sense of trust
and expertise that is necessary for a successful customer experience in the
automotive service industry.
"It's partly about getting the right data and partly about the way that
data can be configured as a flow," Lawrie said. "The associate
becomes an expert, but can show you where their information comes from."
He said the underlying architecture of the integrated solution will enable
automotive service retailers to configure data flows and easily change how
consumers are walked through data.
Lawrie said with many aspects of retail being commoditized, customer
experience is one of the major remaining means by which retailers can
differentiate themselves. He said this is especially important for automotive
service retailers, since many consumers are not familiar with how their cars
work and tend to be suspicious of service recommendations.
"The next thing that would be interesting is allowing customers
to do this experience at home before they go anywhere," he said. "We're
still a little way off from that happening."
Dan Berthiaume covers
the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.