BMW Group UK broke new ground when it took the full car-buying process online earlier this year.
Following a seven-month pilot scheme that ran from April last year, the German manufacturer rolled out its BMW Retail Online solution, which allows customers to configure a car, search available stock in dealerships, set up finance and finalise a deal.
The site even facilitates part-exchanges.
Established in light of research showing that many car buyers average just 1.3 dealer visits before making a purchase, the site aims to take advantage of the growing trend for home research via the internet – with 97% now carrying out research online.
A BMW Group UK spokesman said: “Customers like to collect information and decide on their own how they want to get in touch with a brand and via which channel they purchase products.”
BMW Retail Online is divided into three clear areas: the first is a public area allowing customers to select and configure a car; the next will attempt to source available cars within UK retailers and offer finance options; and the third, private area of the site is where a sale can be finalised and the contract closed.
Live chat is employed to guide customers through their purchase.
The new site has also established a virtual showroom affiliated to each dealer, which BMW Group UK claims will lead to “additional showroom visits”.
The judges said: “BMW’s Retail Online initiative is offering choice to the consumer, with fulfilment still through a dealer. This concept represents a part of the future.”
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