Volvo’s UK dealers have today begun online sales of new cars, giving customers free choice of how they fund their purchase and the ability to sign electronically.
It is the first system with such comprehensive functionality. Only Peugeot’s system also has e-signature functionality, but it is restricted to PCP finance, whereas Volvo Online provides a choice of HP, PCP, PCH or cash purchase.
Volvo Car UK has developed the system to provide a premium online experience in support of its retail network, said managing director Jon Wakefield.
Consumers using Volvo Online are required to first select one of its franchised dealers, and will then discover what offers and stock vehicles that retailer has available, and can also order a factory-build car without stepping inside a showroom, should they wish to.
At launch, around 20% of the network has signed up to Volvo Online, but Wakefield expects that to rise to 80% within a month and hopes that all franchisees will participate ultimately, given the online opportunity it provides.
“Whether online or offline, the way people but cars has changed. Customers now have much more control over the process, and Volvo Online helps them to take that one step further.
“It makes life as easy as possible without compromising on choice or security, and lets customers drive the purchase process when it’s most convenient for them.”
Wakefield said the UK has led this development for Volvo because consumers here are the most engaged with online shopping in Europe. The UK is also Volvo’s third largest global market, after China and USA, and franchisees are very engaged and motivated, he said.
Waylands Automotive was one of a handful of franchisees working with VCUK from the start of the project. Chief executive John O’Hanlon said the carmaker, and its development partner Codeweavers, were committed to understanding what franchisees wanted, and didn’t want, from an online sales solution.
This led to ensuring that the part-exchange function guarantees the value, and adjusts the value in line with depreciation if the customer is choosing between cars from stock and factory orders which may take a few months until delivery. Dealers also wanted a system which was frictionless,
“I think dealers have gently led the way in digital, if you look at social, and websites. But now there’s a coming together of dealers and manufacturers to embrace it properly,” he said.
“I know as a dealer we will sell more cars through it.”
The system launched today, and the PCH functionality will be added within a couple of weeks, followed by the e-signature in early summer. Other developments are further out, including an online test-drive booking system, and Volvo Online could potentially be extended to retail used Volvos in the future, said Nicola Murphy, future sales manager at VCUK.
Santander Consumer Finance and Manheim are partners in the system, providing the motor finance and trade-in functions respectively.