AM Online

Guest blog: Customers want a retail experience delivered to their door

By James Tew, Ivendi chief executive

When I spend £5 on a CD, Amazon deliver it to me. When I spend £20 on pizzas, Dominos bring them to my door. When I spend £30,000 on a car, I have to go and fetch it from the dealership.

Of course, if I made a fuss, there is a good chance that I could persuade the dealer to deliver but the assumption that the customer will go to the dealership reveals something fundamental about the motor industry. The industry believes that the customer wants to go to them.

Now, I have bought a few cars in my time and spent a lot of time in dealerships and, while they have clearly had a lot of money invested in them and are relatively pleasant environments, there are far nicer places to be, like home. If I call a dealership and indicate that I am a serious customer who is willing to spend a significant sum of money on a new motor, why can’t they bring it to me for a test drive?

In this respect, the motor industry is some distance adrift of almost every other area of retail. The rise of e-commerce means that the premises of the retailer are less and less important, a trend most noticeably seen in the decimation of the High Street. Of course, there remain some purchases where what you might call the “retail experience” is crucial – if I could afford to buy my wife a Tiffany necklace, I’d like to do it at Tiffany’s – but they are few and far between and, crucially, these retailers promise a level of high margin, individualised customer service to which the average dealership cannot lay claim.

What is the lesson here? A simple one. Customers are increasingly accustomed to the retail experience being delivered to their door in a highly efficient manner. The motor industry is not insulated from this trend and should be looking at new ways of using e-commerce to take the dealership to the consumer. Putting the premises first is 20th century thinking.

Click here for technology best practice and procurement insight

If you are not a registered user your comment will go to AM for approval before publishing. To avoid this requirement please register or login.

Login to comment


  • martin knowles - 19/06/2013 16:40

    I was test driving cars at customers homes 25 years ago! I don't know a dealer who would not do likewise

    • tomseymour - 19/06/2013 17:25

      @martin knowles - So the majority of franchised dealers are offering this service in the UK? Do you think it's being marketed well that customers can take advantage of this service?

    • martin knowles - 19/06/2013 18:34

      @tomseymour - no the majority are not marketing it but I don't know a single dealer who would refuse if asked if it meant closing a sale. remember that the majority of prospects still come via the showroom so any sales exec worth his/her salt would get them out on a test drive there and then. If the customer then wants there new car delivered then its no problem but the majority prefer collecting. If a prospect called or e mailed requesting a test drive at home its common sense. amazon etc don't have shops so you HAVE to have it delivered. Car dealerships offer a choice thereby offering the best of both worlds!

  • Chris Ashton Green - 19/06/2013 18:05

    Totally agree James...In my retail days working for VW,Audi and BMW it was something I always did with my customers if possible, your closing rate increases due to customers being much more relaxed. When I moved into management I encouraged my team to do the same and this was in the 90s. Chris Green of

  • CGH - 19/06/2013 22:58

    Try asking Amazon to just send you the CD so you can listen to it first, or Dominos to deliver a pizza round to taste before committing. Any retailer I know will bring a car to you to try, if you ask. A demo at a prospects house was once called a "puppy dog" close: Once the family and neighbours have seen it, they never want to give it back! Non-issue, James.

    • James - 20/06/2013 04:00

      @CGH - The only thing I disagree with is me asking. The sales process is too dealer centric and I shouldn't need to ask. What you and Chris both say is that it would be a more effective sales process to get the car to me and spend less time appointing me to the showroom. No doubt it would also improve CSI ratings. I appreciate it's less convenient for the dealer but the sales process needs to evolve.

    • CGH - 20/06/2013 13:33

      @James - The reason you need to ask is because you are in a minority, James. If you wish to have your brand new car delivered to you on a rainy November evening when it looks just like every other car on the road; if you don't wish to meet the aftersales staff who will look after you; if you don't want to see the range of accessories available; if you don't require private individuals finance, etc, then just ask. But, most people still want to see their new car gleaming, at least once! The trade remains dealership centric because it suits the product, just like all big ticket items sold on the high street. However, that doesn't mean to say that premises must be the huge "gin palaces" some manufacturers demand at rediculous cost. Now, if you agree with that one, you will find many allies!

  • martin knowles - 20/06/2013 13:56

    sorry James you are so out of touch and you have not you or your company any favours!! go and work in a dealership for short while and then report back. please don't criticise when you do not know the facts. I am happy to work with you after 28 years in the retail trade

  • Chris green - 20/06/2013 14:31

    I agree with a lot of what is being said here especially the point about consumers wanting the exciting experience of picking up a brand new car looking immaculate in the showroom as its a huge purchase for most people, we also have to understand that we come from the industry and are less precious about our commodity ! I think James has a point about test drving at the home and that's my point especially around 24 hour test drives as its hugely beneficial task with high closing ratios but the OEM needs to be more supportive on this especially with demonstrators and choice! Customers feel at ease at home and know their local area but if its going to be promoted more it needs bigger support from the OEM.....I know what James means and perhaps its not as clear as it could be.......chris green of

  • James - 22/07/2013 19:40

    Hello James I could not agree more with your view. I have come across a company in Brighton, UK which does exactly the same, called - Virtual Car Superstore. I gave the details of the car I want, the budget I had in mind and they beautifully and efficiently searched the whole of UK to find me the car I wanted and delivered it to my home address. They even gave me a 7 day or 500 miles money back guarantee on this. I hope others will follow suit with this business model.