Chart showing ProSales 100's IT spending plans as percent of revenue in 2018
ProSales research

Perhaps it’s because times or good, or perhaps it’s because the demand is greater, but America's biggest dealers appear to be investing more in technology, information collected as part of the 2018 ProSales 100 reveals.

The main signal for this shift comes in our question about percentage of revenues that will be spent on IT this year. Last year, 34% of the 2017 ProSales 100 companies that answered the question said they would allocate less than a quarter of a percentage point of their revenues for IT. Among this year’s respondents, only 23% said they’d spend that little. Meanwhile, the share spending between 0.51% and 1% of revenues on IT rose to 32% from 24%.

This increase is happening even while the pot of revenue money available for IT is growing. The dealers comprising the 2018 ProSales 100 reported 15.1% more revenue in 2017 than they did the year before, taking in a collective $55.85 billion. That's a record for the 26-year history of the list, both in nominal and inflation-adjusted terms.

What are they investing in? At least 42 of the 100 dealers on this year's list plan to invest in mobile applications, and nearly a quarter plan to get a customer relationship management system. Only about one out of eight plan to acquire a computerized dispatch/delivery system, but that’s in part because 73% said they already have one.

Systems and services 2018 ProSales 100 firms offer or plan to offer
ProSales research

As for online customer services, of the 83 to 90 PS100 members who answered particular questions, online customer accounts that show invoices, purchasing, and payment history was the feature offered most widely today; nearly 60% already do so. The most popular future online plans included order tracking, a store in which you actually can order products and pay for them at the same time, and systems in which a customer can enter queries online about product availability and get a reply via email.

Sixty-six of the respondents already have a computerized dispatch and delivery system, and 11 more plan to get it.

The 2018 ProSales 100 list and full report will go online May 9.