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BMW UK to launch Retail Online for Mini and used cars

Kevin Davidson, retailer development director, BMW Group UK, accepts the award for  Digital Initiative of the Year from Sharon Randall, UK sales director, Auto Trader

BMW UK is preparing to extend its award-winning Retail Online offering to new Mini sales and a specialist used platform for both BMW and Mini brands.

In an interview with AM BMW UK’s retailer development director, Kevin Davidson, said that introducing the used element of the ground-breaking platform first would have been easier, but the brand took its end-to-end online sales operation into the new segment last year in order to be “true market leaders”.

Now, six months after the launch of the online offering which scooped the Digital Initiative of the Year and Best Manufacturer Digital Initiative accolades at the AM Awards 2016, Davidson said that the time is right to broaden its appeal.

He said: “We are in the planning stage of BMW and Mini used vehicles online and we hope to be in the pilot stages by the back end of this year.

“A lot of the used car journey is already there at the front end. There is provision for a CitNOW video of the vehicle and you can call the dealer, but we want consistency across all our platforms and that means a full end-to-end sales process.

“In many ways it would have been easier to bring the used car offering to market first but we went after the new car sales platform because we like to innovate and we like to be first to the market with things. In every sense, we aim to be true market leaders.”

Davidson said the Mini new cars online retail offering was currently under development and would probably be launched at some point during 2017.

BMW UK led the way for the German brand when it launched BMW Retail Online in November last year.

The platform was developed in response to research which suggested that 97% of buyers research their car purchase online and customers now visit a retailer an average 1.4 times before completing their purchase. This compares to an average of four visits per purchase in 1998.

Customers can complete the entire purchasing journey, from speccing a car to organising finance and even a part exchange, all with the guidance of a BMW Genius via email or live chat.

The offer of cars already in the BMW UK retail network which are close in specification to the customers’ configured vehicle is made prior to purchase to deliver reduced lead times where desirable.

A deposit or full payment can be delivered via the site or to a recommended dealer suggested by the site to complete the process and deliver the eventual vehicle hand-over.

To date the site has generated 14,000 live chats, 41,000 click-to-purchase transactions and 300 pure online sales in which customers paid for their vehicle via the web-site.

Davidson said that retailers were reaping the rewards of ready-made leads. He said: “We are very fortunate that we have a very forward-thinking dealership network who are keen to engage with us and explore new concepts.

“We are really pleased with how things are going so far and expect the new used platform to only broaden Online Retail’s appeal to a wider audience.”

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