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TagRail™ Launches Digital Retail Platform that Pulls Shoppers from their Livingrooms to Dealers’ Showrooms

DUBLIN, Calif. TagRail™, the creator of DealerTag™ and the Lexus Plus CEM App, announced today the general availability of its Digital Retail Platform. It is a dealer-customizable and brandable online car-buying tool to help dealerships attract, engage, and close more online shoppers through a frictionless online transition from their “Livingroom to the Showroom.”

“Our goal is to have the consumer complete about 90-95% of the transaction at home online and to have a frictionless delivery experience when he or she arrives at the dealership,” says David Luce, TagRail V.P. of Sales.

“This platform pulls shoppers forward through the sales funnel, so 70% will complete their transaction compared to 30% on other types of online digital platforms,” said TagRail CEO Kiran Karunakaran.

“And we know that online purchases average $500 to $700 higher in gross than do walk-in transactions,” Karunakaran added.

Dealership CSI increases where consumers enjoy this type of near-total livingroom shopping and buying experience. Likewise, when customers are offered online, self-selected product options they upsell themselves, resulting in higher per-vehicle retail dollars.

Dealers easily customize the tool’s sequence of activities by which customers will engage its dynamic interface, based on user behavior analysis or dealer preference:

  • Trade-in appraisal, using guides from Black Book, Kelley Blue Book, and NADA, depending on dealer preference
  • Accessories, offers dynamic and colorful product options and descriptions for the dealer’s choice of providers to help shoppers view and choose customization products
  • Rebates, to help shoppers apply incentives to their vehicle choice
  • Protection, a menu of dealer-selected, VIN-specific vehicle protection products, including service contracts, GAP, and other investment-protection products
  • Payment, enables users to leverage a soft credit pull to calculate a penny-perfect payment for finance or lease options.
  • Delivery Option, vehicle delivery or pick up at dealership
  • Credit Application, pushed into RouteOne or Dealertrack platforms to save the dealer time and streamline the delivery process

A showroom visit is necessary to finalize the trade appraisal and complete documents required for vehicle delivery.

This digital shopping solution captures user activity to point the dealership to opportunities for continuous improvement and analysis while it pushes hot leads and order-pending opportunities to the dealership’s CRM and finance platforms.

“TagRail’s new Digital Retail Platform provides users penny-perfect payments by running a soft pull and providing users accurate VIN-specific warranty and aftermarket pricing, and accurate and current rebate information in an online platform providing great communications with the consumer and full disclosure. With the online in-store need the final trade appraisal, the goal is to deliver the vehicle in less than one hour,” Luce noted.

For information and a demo, contact David Luce at email hidden; JavaScript is required or cell at 702-493-3300.

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LotLinx Names Gee Leung COO

CHICAGO — Automotive AI provider LotLinx announced Gee Leung, who has served as a trusted advisor to hundreds of digital media and technology companies over multiple decades, has joined the company as COO.

Leung joins LotLinx at a pivotal time in the company’s development, as it transitions from an innovative startup to an established technology leader in the automotive digital marketing sector.

“We are extremely pleased to add Gee’s caliber of experience to the team,” said LotLinx founder Len Short. “I’ve known Gee a long time and he has an unparalleled insight into what drives success for technology companies. I am confident his energy and dynamic background will resonate with our customers, and our team will greatly benefit from his skillset and unique perspective.”

Leung began his technology banking career in the late ’90s, and had a front row seat during the early internet technology boom. Most recently he served as partner at AGC Partners, a boutique technology investment banks in the country. Prior to AGC, Leung held senior banking positions at MESA Global and Montgomery & Co. and  Earlier in his career, he was a technology M&A banker at Friedman Billings and was also part of the technology investment banking team at Citigroup.

Leung will now work out of LotLinx’ newly expanded Chicago headquarters.

“I have been covering the automotive digital marketing sector for years and have always admired LotLinx for its innovation and dedication to the dealer,” Leung said. “Len and the team have built something special, creating a platform that’s truly revolutionizing the way dealers and OEMs conduct digital marketing. I’m excited to bring my expertise and background to LotLinx, and look forward to helping our customers and partners succeed.”

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F&I Express® Names Gary Peek Chief Information Officer

GRAPEVINE, Texas – Intersection Technologies Inc.- F&I Express is thrilled to announce that Gary Peek has joined the business team as Chief Information Officer. Peek will be a key contributor to the direction and planning of the strategic growth of F&I Express, including the development of expanded technology solutions to help continually drive innovation in the marketplace. Peek will be responsible for managing all aspects of information technology and shape product vision and technology strategy.

“I am excited to join F&I Express and be a part of the rapid growth that the company is experiencing and to work with Brian Reed, an automotive industry veteran,” said Gary Peek, CIO of F&I Express. “The F&I technologies that are being built for lenders, dealerships, and aftermarket providers is changing rapidly, and I am confident that F&I Express will continue to be at the forefront of companies providing software and services in this vertical.”

Peek brings more than 20 years of experience in the vertical market software industry including strategic planning, mergers/acquisitions, business development, and product and software engineering strategies to F&I Express. Before he joined F&I Express, Peek served as the Vice President of IT Business Solutions for Rent-A-Center, Inc. (RAC) where he managed a large technology team providing application development, quality control, product management, solution architecture, and enterprise data services across multiple business units. Prior to RAC, Peek was responsible for strategy, business case development, and global vendor management for technologies used by KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants outside the U.S. as the Director of Restaurant Technology Strategy for Yum! Restaurants International. Peek has also founded and grown highly successful software companies from the ground up with technologies primarily focused on the restaurant industry being used by companies around the globe.

F&I Express is also happy to welcome Mike Llewellyn to the F&I Express team. As the Express Recoveries Product Manager, he will be instrumental in supporting and leading the overall growth of the business for this complete solution for streamlined, compliant eCancellations. Llewellyn will work closely with customers and across technology and account management teams to ensure customer needs are met and solution strategies are successful.

“I am ecstatic to be part of the dynamic growth at F&I Express, joining this extremely passionate and talented team,” said Mike Llewellyn, Express Recoveries Product Manager, F&I Express. “I am focused on further enhancing one of our best-in-class solutions, Express Recoveries, enabling lenders and dealers to obtain aftermarket product cancellations and refund data, while solving business problems that arise in our ever-changing marketplace landscape.”

Llewellyn has over 20 years of experience in Product Management and a history of customer-centric focus in e-commerce environments. Llewellyn held a number of roles at Sabre Airline Solutions before joining F&I Express, from Manager, Solution Marketing Ancillary Sales to Manager, Solution Marketing Self-Service to Manager, E-Commerce Delivery. He successfully led e-commerce airline booking portals at global airlines as well as promoted new features driving an increase of ancillary revenues for airlines. Llewellyn also reinvigorated the revolutionary MySabre agency point-of-sale portal with product enhancements, increasing adoption by 57%. Prior to Sabre, Llewellyn was an Account Executive at American Airlines where he was recognized with both the Circle of Distinction and Bulls Eye awards for outstanding sales growth and visionary leadership.

“We are excited to welcome Gary Peek to our business team as Chief Information Officer at F&I Express. He will be key to our strategic growth plan to expand and improve our technology solutions at an explosive rate,” said Brian Reed, President and CEO of F&I Express. “Mike Llewellyn will be another valuable addition to the F&I Express team. We look forward to the contribution he will make to further develop the success of our eCancellation solution, Express Recoveries.”

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Cox Automotive’s Future of Digital Retail Study Reveals Dealerships Remain Central to the Car Buying Experience

Cox Automotive released the findings of its Future of Digital Retail Study, with results showing that the current dealership model needs to change with consumer preferences, but that the dealership remains central to car buying. While most consumers prefer completing at least one step of the car buying process online, most car buyers want to complete the transaction at a dealership.

On the digital front, 71 percent of consumers want to get accurate, detailed information on the deal online and 83 percent of consumers want to complete at least one purchase activity online. Consumers indicate they want to complete a majority of the legwork before they enter the dealership. They want to agree on an accurate price that does not change later in the process, understand and select add-ons and warranties, agree on a trade-in value and other costs ahead of time, reducing – or eliminating – the time necessary to negotiate the final purchase price in-store.

The average buyer currently spends three hours at the dealership during a car purchase, with 90 minutes spent on negotiating the financial details[1]. Consumer satisfaction with how long the process takes at the dealership continues to decrease, dropping from 55 percent in 2016[2] to 46 percent in 2018[3].

On a parallel track, the dealership is important for consumers in both initial research and final purchase processing. Nearly nine in 10 respondents want to complete their purchase at the dealership; only 11 percent of consumers want to review and sign paperwork online away from the dealership. However, Cox Automotive research shows a growing percentage of people are interested in completing the entire purchase online in the future.[4]

The dealership continues to have a significant role. Eight in 10 consumers would never purchase a car without a test drive and seven in 10 would never purchase a car without physically seeing it first, even if a condition report is offered – both activities typically conducted at a dealership. The survey also indicates that most car shoppers want dealership staff to be valuable consultants during the process, especially for learning about the individual products, features and vehicle capabilities.

“The results of our study show that the most successful dealers are the ones who offer a connected in-store and online experience, where consumers start car-buying activities online and seamlessly finish them at the dealership,” said Mike Burgiss, vice president of Digital Retailing at Cox Automotive. “Importantly, a more efficient process is not only better for consumers, it’s better for dealers as well.”

[1] 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study

[2] 2016 Car Buyer Journey Study

[3] 2018 Car Buyer Journey Study

[4] 2015 Car Buyer of the Future Study, 2018 Future of Digital Retail Study

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Judge Again Rules in Favor of Trump in Battle for Control of CFPB

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge once again sided with the White House in the battle for control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, denying last Wednesday a request by CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English for a preliminary injunction to remove President Donald Trump’s appointee as acting head of the agency.

The ruling comes less than 50 days after U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly denied English’s request for a restraining order to block President Trump’s appointment of White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as acting director. It now sets the stage for an appeal by English, who has said she is the rightful acting director.

“The Court finds that English is not likely to succeed on the merits of her claims, nor is she likely to suffer irreparable harm absent the injunctive relief sought,” Judge Kelly wrote in his 46-page decision. “Moreover, the balance of the equities and the public interest also weigh against granting the relief. Therefore, English has not met the exacting standard to obtain a preliminary injunction.”

Judge Kelly originally denied English’s request for a temporary restraining order to block Mulvaney’s appointment on Nov. 28. The ruling, however, pertained to the restraining order and not the merits of the case, with English’s attorney Deepak Gupta hinting that Kelly’s ruling “would not be the final answer.”

Gupta then filed an amendment complaint on behalf of English on Dec. 6 requesting a preliminary injunction. Unlike the temporary restraining order, the injunction can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit if not granted.  Gupta gave no indication that Wednesday’s ruling would be appealed, although he expressed disappointment in Kelly’s decision in a Twitter post.

“The law is clear: President Trump may not circumvent the Senate confirmation process by installing his White House budget director to run the CFPB part time,” Gupta wrote. “Mr. Mulvaney’s appointment undermines the bureau’s independence and threatens its mission to protect American consumers.”

When Cordray formally resigned as CFPB director on Nov. 24, he elevated English, his former chief of staff, to deputy director. The move established her as acting director until the Senate confirms Trump’s permanent appointee.

Hours after Cordray’s announcement, Trump appointed Mulvaney as acting director, citing his authority through the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA). English filed suit two days later to block the appointment, arguing that she was the rightful acting director due to a successor statute in the CFPB-creating Dodd-Frank Act.

English’s attorneys also questioned whether allowing Mulvaney, who once characterized the bureau as a “sick joke,” to continue serving as a White House official would compromise the bureau’s independence. The argument was backed by the former lawmakers who championed the CFPB-creating Dodd-Frank Act.

“That was our intent, to strip this away from the politics of the moment, to give consumers the sense of confidence that there was one place here — when it came to their financial services — [where] there would be people watching out for them, regardless of political party or partisanship,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd during media call on Nov. 30.

Dodd joined former Rep. Barney Frank and more than 30 current and former members of Congress in writing one of five separate amicus briefs in support of English’s position. In Wednesday’s ruling, however, Judge Kelly said that argument is completely without support in the text of the Dodd-Frank, adding that the court “declines to create such a restriction out of whole cloth.”

“Simply put, Dodd-Frank does not prohibit the director of the OMB from also serving as the acting director of the CFPB,” Kelly wrote in his ruling.

“The President has designated Mulvaney the CFPB’s acting director, the CFPB has recognized him as the acting director, and it is operating with him as acting director,” Kelly continued. “Granting English an injunction would not bring about more clarity; it would only serve to muddy the waters.”

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Chase Joins AutoFi’s Digital Retailing Platform

NEW YORK — Chase became the first national bank to join AutoFi’s digital retailing platform, the finance source announced today.

AutoFi is a fintech firm that offers a digital retailing platform that connects dealers with finance sources and buyers. Under the new partnership, Chase will deliver financing terms online through the AutoFi platform.

“AutoFi helps dealers provide a fast and easy digital car-buying experience that consumers want,” said Chase Auto Finance CEO Mark O’Donovan. “Our customers are our top priority — both dealers and car buyers. We want to provide them with the best financial experience whether they are in a dealership or online.”

AutoFi CEO Kevin Singerman added: “We are thrilled to partner with Chase. We share a common vision of using technology to deliver a delightful consumer purchase experience. Our partnership brings tremendous value to the dealer community leveraging the breadth of Chase’s full spectrum lending and automated capabilities to deliver a comprehensive digital retailing solution to dealers across the nation.”

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