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Rockar founder offers to help other dealers adapt businesses to modern digital retailing

Hyundai Rockar store front

Dealers are being offered the chance to share in the success of shopping centre retailer Rockar.

Four years after founding the company – which sells new Hyundai’s out of the Bluewater and Westfield shopping centres and is planning a further Jaguar Land Rover store in the latter – chief executive Simon Dixon wants to make systems he has helped develop for the innovative business available to other businesses.

“We set out to reinvent car buying in 2012 and in the last 18 months have striven to ensure our credibility in the sector,” he said. “But I don’t want to keep what we have to ourselves. The industry needs to change and we want to help enable that because if we don’t there are lots of examples of new entrants taking business away from the established players.”

While he said he was in talks with other vehicle manufacturers about extending the Rockar model beyond three franchises, he also wants to talk to dealers.

He talked specifically about the vehicle ‘empowered’ search system Rockar says is a key differentiator for the business.

Search begins not at the vehicle selection stage, but on a consumer’s buying power: what deposit they have, the part exchange valuation, the payment structure they are interested in ie personal contract purchase, higher purchase or cash. Test drive and service booking - and the ability to complete a transaction - are possible.

It’s part of what Dixon calls a fully transactional system based on transparency, not least of all in vehicle pricing. When a consumer adjusts their preferences the system can make variations on the pricing of 2,400 models (18,000 when the Jaguar Land Rover site goes live) “in a split second”.

“It’s not uncommon for technology developers to share their products and it could take Rockar another 10 years to develop a physical network of traditional scale. But if we share our technology we could achieve scale in a different way very quickly,” he said. “The system has been built to be shared.

"The whole vehicle buying transaction can be done on the system. And Rockar Retailing is proof that it works.”

After three weeks of opening its first store, Rockar was the largest Hyundai dealer in the country by retail sales and now it is consistently in the top three.

The store at Bluewater shopping centre has had 266,000 people visit it since opening in November 2014 and Westfield 197,000 since December 2015.

The rest of the Hyundai network of 158 dealers, Dixon said, would see between 145,000 - 155,000 in a year. A total of 421,000 customer journeys through the sales process have been recorded at the two Rockar sites. And 52 million people have walked past the two stores - “the equivalent of one TV advert played over and over again”.

Anyone wanting to discuss the sharing opportunities with Dixon can contact him at interested@rockar.com.

> Simon Dixon spoke at the AM Digital Dealer Conference this month. Full coverage of his presentation and of all the other speakers will be in the October issue of AM.

> Rockar Bluewater gallery below

Rockar Hyundai at Bluewater Shopping Centre, Kent

Click a thumbnail to view all the images in the gallery.



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