Automotive, Industry Ideas, Insights

What Internet Explorer Can Teach You About Dealership Technology

By Motoinsight - May 14, 2020

On May 18, 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft on the grounds that the tech company’s packaging of their proprietary Internet Explorer software with Windows installations was eroding the competitive landscape by obstructing other software companies. Two years later, the DOJ ruled that Microsoft would be divided in half, severing its operating system side from the software side.

More recently, courts in Europe and the United States have followed in that approach, considering penalties and judicial action against tech giants like Google and Facebook to limit their monopolistic ambitions. But these anticompetitive practices aren’t unique to the multibillion-dollar companies we see in the news every day.

Even in our own industry, there exist companies who, already possessing substantial influence over dealership technology, would use their clout to exclude other vendors from participating. By creating barriers to entry including artificial fees, companies can unfairly limit dealer options and slow the rate of progress in the industry. Just as the automotive industry is starting to embrace digital retailing software to its advantage, certain players are preventing dealers from accessing the best-in-class options that could help them excel.

What’s the true danger here?

As you well know, a free market encourages competition between companies, which results in better products for the customer. Because different companies tend towards different areas of expertise, you may find that one software provider offers the best websites, while another offers the best digital retailing, and even another offers the best service department solution.
But the challenge with software is that integration between different platforms can often provide the best end-user experience. As a dealer, you rely on the compatibility between your finance widget or digital retailing platform and your website provider in order to have the best of all worlds. Some software providers know this, and use it against you.

If so motivated, a website provider could block digital retailing providers from their ‘sites, or charge dealers an extra fee simply to use a third party digital retailing platform. Then, having put the competition at an unfair disadvantage, the website provider could introduce their own digital retailing solution. The anticompetitive practices would exclude other, potentially superior digital retailing options from the dealer, forcing them to settle for something that may be subpar.

How can you fight back?

This all comes down to choice: your choice. Software is going to continue playing a larger and larger role in dealerships’ success, and you can’t afford to have your choices limited by anticompetitive practices. When evaluating new software (or even existing software), always inquire about the freedom to integrate with other solutions and providers. There’s no bigger red flag than a platform which only integrates with that same company’s other products.

Crucially, be aware that there are many choices to satisfy any one of your needs. Many website providers offer unrestricted integration with any digital retailing platform on the market; many CRMs integrate seamlessly with service department software. No matter what you’re looking for, there is an option that makes integration easy, no matter who makes the other software.

Despite losing their lawsuit, Microsoft appealed the Internet Explorer ruling and continue operating largely unhindered. It didn’t matter, though, because Internet Explorer simply wasn’t the best product. Consumers rejected Microsoft’s attempts to force a subpar web browser on them, and turned to alternatives like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. In the past 15 years, Internet Explorer dropped from 95% market share down to a negligible 2.29% in 2019. You have the power to say ‘no’ to anticompetitive companies and inadequate solutions.

Since 2011, Motoinsight has been working with dealerships and OEMs to realize a new vision for the automotive industry through our leading solutions including MotoCommerce. If you’re ready to find out how your dealership can thrive in the digital future, visit Let’s redefine automotive retail, together.

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