Cazoo has continued to sell cars online and facilitate “contactless” home deliveries during the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown period – offering a £250 discount to NHS workers.
While franchised retailers have closed showrooms and ceased selling cars across the UK, the online disruptor told AM that it would continue to sell vehicles to “those who need to keep moving”, suggesting that sales were not limited to key workers during the lockdown period.
Alex Chesterman, the chief executive and founder of Cazoo – and formerly a founder of Zoopla and LoveFilm – said that 50% of sales in the past week had been to health workers.
A spokesman for Cazoo said: “It is pretty clear that the majority of customers buying cars at this time are people who need it. There are many workers, not just in the health sector, who need a car to get to their jobs to keep the rest of us going.
“And in some cases they need a car to protect their jobs as there is a clear reluctance by some to use public transport for the time being. We speak to all our customers and try to prioritise deliveries based on need.”
This week Cazoo – a new automotive retail business keen to align itself with online retailers such and Amazon, which has continued to trade and deliver products during the lockdown period – offered all NHS workers a discount on their vehicle purchase, which includes free home delivery.
A statement issued by Cazoo – the subject of a retailer face-to-face interview in the April edition of AM magazine – said: “As with other online retailers, Cazoo has recently put in place measures to ensure a contactless delivery process to fully protect both its staff and customers.
“All vehicle handovers now take place from a safe distance with Cazoo Delivery Specialists wearing personal protective equipment and remaining outside the car, whilst still providing a full customer handover and explanation of all the key features of the vehicle.”
Cazoo’s stance on continued sales contrasts those of traditional franchised retailers across the UK which have ceased sales completely, closed showrooms and furloughed tens of thousands of staff.
Many franchisees, including Arnold Clark, Simon Bailes Peugeot and TrustFord, have donated vehicles to NHS workers to keep them mobile during the pandemic and a skeleton aftersales operation has been retained to support keyworkers.
Cazoo said that it has seen a notable increase in demand from health workers seeking to buy a car over the past few weeks, as cars have increasingly become an essential mode of transport for NHS staff to get to and from work at a time of reduced public transport services and social distancing.
To claim their £250 discount, NHS workers order a car online at cazoo.co.uk and then email their NHS photo ID to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the car has been delivered, Cazoo will refund £250 to any current NHS worker with a valid photo ID as a thank you for the amazing work and sacrifices they are making.
Every Cazoo car comes with a seven-day money-back guarantee, free comprehensive 90-day warranty and roadside assistance.
Alex Chesterman said: “It is more important than ever that our amazing NHS heroes can get to work safely, and we are happy to try to make car buying as affordable as possible.
“This £250 discount to any NHS worker is our way of showing our gratitude for the remarkable work and sacrifices they are making every day.
“Last week, 50% of our orders came from health workers and it is only right that we support them at a time when, understandably, many are reluctant to use public transportation.”
Last month Cazoo raised a further £100 million to boost its online car retail ambitions after delivering £20 million worth of vehicle sales in its first three months of trading.
This latest funding round was led by DMG Ventures alongside other investors including General Catalyst, CNP (Groupe Frère), Mubadala Capital, Octopus Ventures, Eight Roads Ventures and Stride.VC.
It means that the online used car retailer has now succeeded in raising £180m since being founded 18 months ago – a record for any UK start-up in its first year of operation.