Dealers should be investing as much or more in digital than physical showrooms as buyers grow more comfortable with purchasing big ticket items.
Tesco Cars’ managing director Douglas Rotberg told delegates at the AM Used Car Market Conference at the National Motorcycle Museum at Solihull that online shopping is a growth market.
There are 37 million active online shoppers in the UK and there will be more than 55m by 2014.
Rotberg referenced research from Ford which shows 37% of customers would buy a new car without test driving it first.
Online shopping grew by 18% in 2010 and Rotberg expects this rate of growth to continue in the future.
Tesco Cars is essentially a rebranded Carsite which launched in 2006.
The business partnered with the Tesco brand in April this year and while Rotberg would not reveal how many cars the business had sold, he said it was “on track for our five-year forecast”.
Rotberg said: “Customer confidence with spending is very strongly linked with trust. “The partnership with Tesco gives the brand visibility and trust when customers buy online.
“The customer sells the car to themselves and there’s no pressure. We make them in charge of the process and they don’t have to speak to anyone if they don’t want to.”
Tesco Cars has had 100% positive feedback from customers so far and if there’s ever a problem the com-pany’s policy is to resolve it immediately with no questions asked.
He said: “One woman has bought a car from us, but wasn’t happy as she couldn’t get out of her car after she drove it into her garage. We arranged for it to be picked up and sold her a different car.”
Rotberg believes online car shopping may also present a more attractive option to female buyers who would prefer not to go to a showroom – 30% of Tesco Cars customers are women.
Rotberg said: “Tesco Cars marks the next chapter in the automotive retail business.
“It’s another channel for customers and I’m sure dealers will follow with similar technology in their own businesses.
“Ultimately the customer will decide who and where they buy from.”