March 10, 2014
February, normally a sleepy month, produced some very interesting data this year highlighted by:
The first and third bullets are, we believe, closely related. In December we analyzed the Contact At Once! acquisition of Outsell’s managed chat business and it seems the impact of that transaction is now being seen in the market share numbers.
We measured a marked increase in dealer sites with CarChat24 during February, the result, we presume, of a strong end-of-2013 sales push.
Overall dealer adoption of live chat software continues to climb with increasing momentum. In next month’s post we will detail the quarterly adoption trends.
* Note: ActivEngage management has challenged the accuracy of our data. Read more.
February 12, 2014
The market share rankings for live chat software vendors serving the automotive industry remained the same for January.
Leader Contact At Once! added to their lead, and #2 player ActiveEngage also added share. Outsell, the #3 player, lost share, as expected, following the sale of a portion of their live chat business in December.
Others losing small shares were Gubagoo and CarChat24. It should be noted that the number of dealer websites using Gubagoo and CarChat24 both grew, just not as fast as other vendors.
Regarding BoldChat who gained small share, we have learned that a relatively new provider of chat answering services, EngageToSell, may be behind the increase in market share here. EngageToSell is not the first chat answering service to use BoldChat’s software (Outsell also does so), but as far as we can tell is the first to use the generic BoldChat code signature. As a result, our crawler is unable to distinguish between sites using the EngageToSell asnwering service, versus those that licensed software directly from BoldChat. We will seek clarification from the respective vendors to see if it may be possible to tease apart their respective market share measurements, but for now they remain commingled.
January 6, 2014
Happy New Year to all of our readers! Adoption of live chat software by automotive dealers continues to climb.
We analyze the adoption trend on a quarterly basis, and based on our December 2013 data, approximately 34.5% of dealer websites now have chat software deployed.
As evidenced by the trend graph below, the data points to continued adoption by automotive dealers.
Next month we’ll update vendor market share data to see what, if anything, has changed.
December 17, 2013
On December 11th, market share leader Contact At Once! announced that they had acquired the direct chat business of #3 Outsell. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. In this post, we analyze the announcement and what it means for the automotive industry.
Outsell was one of the pioneering providers of full service managed live chat for car dealers, dating back to 2004. In its early years, Outsell sold directly to dealers and established reseller relationships with companies such as BZresults (pre-ADP acquisition) and VINsolutions (pre-Autotrader acquisition). In 2009, Outsell acquired chat software provider Northwind and, around the same time, launched a new product, the Digital Engagement Platform (DEP). Our sources indicate that the Northwind acquisition was a dud, and that Outsell never did deploy Northwind’s software, choosing instead to continue white-labeling chat software from other vendors. Perhaps as a result of that failure, or perhaps by design, Outsell swung their attention to the DEP which includes email marketing tools, as well as multi-channel business intelligence and targeting. With company sales and support focused on DEP, Outsell slowly began losing chat market share, as documented on this website over the past year or so.
Per the press release announcing the acquisition by Contact At Once!, Outsell believes the divestiture of their live chat business will enable the company to focus more tightly on the Digital Engagement Platform, while providing their live chat customers with a nice path forward on the market-leading Contact At Once! platform. That makes total sense to us.
For Contact At Once!, already the market share leader in automotive chat, the Outsell acquisition is an interesting move. We continue to measure monthly gains in market share for Contact At Once!, even as Outsell’s share shrinks, so it is unlikely in our opinion that capturing market share was the primary motivator. Rather, we believe the two drivers for Contact At Once! were the full service managed chat expertise of Outsell, and the opportunity to enhance their OEM value proposition.
Outsell’s chat business was 100% fully-managed, meaning Outsell answered all chats on behalf of their dealer customers, and Outsell had earned a strong reputation for doing so with excellence. Contact At Once!, from inception, has built its own software and has been best known for innovative technology. Though Contact At Once! has offered fully-managed chat services for the past several years, they have been perceived by many as a software-only provider. No more. With the Outsell acquisition, Contact At Once! is firmly established as the leading provider of full service managed chat.
A not-so-insignificant sub-plot to the acquisition is an Outsell-Contact At Once! integration partnership that will be well received by GM and Toyota, two mutual customers of the companies. The partnership should help both companies in landing future OEM and agency deals and likely represented a motivator for both companies to consummate the transaction. The OEM’s that don’t already have a chat strategy are working on one right now, so enhancing the value proposition for OEM’s is smart.
We understand that there will be a transition period during which many dealer websites will continue to have Outsell code signatures on them until being replaced with Contact At Once! code signatures. We also understand that Outsell will continue servicing certain of their “bundled” dealers, meaning our crawler will continue to measure meaningful market share for Outsell even beyond the transition period. Check back frequently in the coming months to see the impact of this acquisition on overall vendor market share. We are uniquely positioned to measure it and report on it.
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