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Return to showrooms accompanied by ‘step change’ in online car retail

James Tew, chief executive officer at iVendi

As lockdown eases car dealers reopening their showrooms on June 1 are likely to prompt a ‘step change’ in online motor retail, according to iVendi.

The online automotive finance specilaist has said that a permanent shift away from showroom-based interaction seems inevitable and that it has already seen a recent increase in interest from dealers who want to upgrade their online presence.

James Tew, chief executive officer at iVendi, said: “The showroom-based retail model has persisted in the motor industry for much longer than almost any other sector but, for the medium term at least, that picture is likely to change and perhaps substantially.

“Consumers are likely to remain wary about utilising showrooms in numbers for the foreseeable future and a socially distanced premises may just not be much fun to visit.

“There is every reason to believe that click and collect and home delivery will be the dominant methods of trading as we emerge from lockdown, and that showrooms will become more like fulfilment centres where vehicles are processed.

"There will be some face-to-face vehicle retail, but it will probably be relatively limited.”

Tew reported that iVendi had seen a surge in interest in its online retail products as the industry had begun to return to trading, but that difficult issues needed to be solved for some retailers.

He said: “The issue is not the technology itself. We can demonstrate that the technology works, can be easily integrated into almost all dealer systems, and is cost-effective.

“The issues are likely to arise in retailers having to create real-world processes that align with the technology where they don’t currently exist, such as to enable click and collect. This is probably a much bigger task than enhancing your web site to enable a complete online purchasing process.

“This is where we are going to see the real step change, our view is that showrooms will continue to have an important part to play, but all dealers will have digitalised themselves.”

Results from the 'AM UK car retail coronavirus impact survey' - conducted between March 25 and April 3 - revealed that less than half of car retailers are equipped to complete contactless online car sales.

iVendi is offering car retailers its latest and most advanced car sales platform product free of charge in a bid to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown. 

Tew said that iVendi had been in the process of launching its new product range when lockdown began and that the technology appeared to be gaining traction.

iVendi now has three products, ‘ENGAGE’, ‘CONVERT’ and ‘TRANSACT’– that together are designed to deliver a complete online motor retail journey

Tew said: “We provided TRANSACT free of charge to our direct customer base as a gesture of solidarity during the crisis.

"The product is designed to drive deals with an approach intended to reflect real-world negotiations, and the statistics we are seeing suggest that it is already helping to make a different for our dealers.

“We believe that conditions are going to be difficult over the coming months and probably years in the motor industry but for us, this is a moment when we can prove exactly how well online processes work when it comes to selling vehicles.”

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