Car retailers across the UK should be working to ensure that organising a test drive is as easy as ordering an Uber, according to automotive eCommerce specialist drivvn.
After COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were lifted for car showrooms across the UK in April, many retailers credited customers’ ability to once again touch and feel their next car purchase before buying with last month’s 13.9% uplift in registrations reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Speaking to AM this week, Inchcape chief executive James Brearley said: “We absolutely believe that people want to test drive cars and have seen that in the spike of activity that’s been seen since the lockdown was lifted.”
Despite its online retail model, Polestar Cars also acknowledges the importance of test drives, UK chief executive Jonathan Goodman telling AM that it plans to host up to 30,000 at regional events across the UK in 2021.
Research compiled by drivvn has backed-up the automotive sector’s view, with data from thousands of vehicle sales showing that buyers who test drive a vehicle are 50% more likely to purchase.
It believes that improvements to the test drive booking process – getting more customers into cars – could be the key to boosting sales.
Websites analysed by drivvn showed that 80% of car buyers were being offered the opportunity to book a test drive experience were taken to a standard enquiry form.
The majority of enquiries had a poor response, with 55% of leads were not responded to after 48 hours, it said.
As a result the eCommerce firm has launched a new Booking Suite tool which allows users to book a test drive in three clicks by choosing a vehicle, selecting a local area and choosing a dealer or for the vehicle to be delivered to, if a remote experience is desired.
Jacqui Barker, head of commercial at drivvn, said the transition between the online customer journey and physical dealership experience needs to be “seamless”, citing an Uber-style process for maximum ease of use.
“Breaks in the process or a poor experience will result in lost sales,” she said.
“It’s key that these connections evolve robustly as more of the vehicle purchase journey is completed online.
“We are all surrounded by the internet of things and consumers expect big brands to be able to deliver just as well as other retail verticals.
“A frustrated customer will buy from a retailer that can get it right and they’re prepared to pay for the experience.”
Drivvn recently reported that the rapid shift to digital retailing during the pandemic had pushed sales through its platform to over £382m in 2020.