Rising demand among car buyers in COVID-19 lockdown has prompted Auto Trader to bring forward the launch of home delivery and click and collect online marketing tools.
The online classified advertising platform said that it saw over a million car buyers browse its online adverts on Saturday (May 16) alone – highlighting the rate in which consumer demand is returning.
Auto Trader said that the volume of activity equated to week-on-week growth of 15%, putting its performance “close to pre-COVID-19 levels”.
Its increased activity has prompted the early launch of ‘retail ready’ tools designed to help retailers articulate the COVID-19 safety measures they are putting into place, including home delivery, contactless collection and video vehicle tours.
The new assets will be available from Wednesday (May 20).
Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s director of commercial products, said: “As a result of the global pandemic consumer shopping behaviours across all categories are changing, and this includes shopping for vehicles.
“In a world where, regardless of what the government says, consumers are still hesitant about going out, it’s vital that we support retailers to create an outstanding online experience for consumers.
“Everything from the browsing experience, to reassurances around the vehicle, its price and the retailer’s safety measures are necessary to instil trust with consumers and help retailers to convert sales.
“We have created these tools, to support both the retailer and the consumer to drive trust, transparency and of course much needed sales. We are all really focused on helping retailers to get back to business as quickly as possible.”
Last week the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) teamed-up to publish their ‘Industry Guidance and Best Practice for Automotive Retail’.
Its publication offered best practice advice following confirmation from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that click and collect car sales can be offered by dealers during the COVID-19 lockdown.
That advice followed the NFDA’s earlier assertion that home deliveries had also been deemed as “acceptable” under current lockdown rules.
AM reported following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's address over changes to the COVID-19 lockdown guidance in England last week, that the UK's car showrooms are likely to join “non-essential” retail businesses in re-opening on June 1 if infection rates remain under control.
Auto Trader's recent online activity suggests that there is customer demand to satisfy.
During the last seven days, the number of leads generated for retailers grew 48% year-on-year and over 12,700 vehicles are now being saved every day, it claimed – an increase of 58% year-on-year.
Recent research conducted by Auto Trader revealed that due to social distancing anxieties, 76% of consumers are concerned about visiting a dealership in a ‘normal’ way once the restrictions have been lifted, however.
From Wednesday, retailers who offer a home delivery service will be able to feature a corresponding indicator flag, and where available, potential car buyers will have the option to book a Live Video Viewing directly with the retailer.
There will also be a section for COVID-19 safety measures to indicate whether the retailer offers appointments only or contactless collection, as well as a free text box to allow retailers to tell consumers about the specific COVID-19 safety measures they’ve introduced.
The launch of Auto Trader’s new features will be backed by a marketing campaign on its marketplace.
Auto Trader said that over 2,500 retailers had already begun to upload details of their COVID-19 lockdown safety measures, including: 2,400 who have indicated social distancing measures had been put in place; 2,200 will offer a contactless handover service; and 2,000 retailers have introduced appointment only visits.