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Auto Zebra launches to help OEMs sell more new cars online

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Auto Zebra has launched in the UK to work with car manufacturers to use data and retail processes to sell more new cars online.

The company features a senior team including Tony Patterson and Tomas Honz, former directors at Summit, the company that recently launched online sales platform Drivvn.

Honz was also formerly in charge of developing the technology and first online platform that underpinned what became Rockar and helped build PSA UK’s e-commerce capabilities.

The new business is offering online retail consultancy, live chat management through a strategic partnership with online sales team specialists WebHelp, as well as the option for OEMs to outsource their online sales management through Auto Zebra.

Patterson, senior partner at Auto Zebra, said: “COVID-19 has accelerated everything for automotive online with many OEMs investing in platforms and technology.

“But we know that not enough cars are being sold by car manufacturers online, the question is why?

“To sell cars online, you need more than just an e-commerce channel with a pretty website.

“It is vital also to provide a joined-up customer experience and have a great online proposition.

“Once in place, significant sales can then be unlocked by an online sales team that is driven by data and insights and working to retail processes to support the customer on their journey.”

Auto Zebra is currently in the process of evaluating 30 OEMs’ online new car sales capabilities against a framework criteria for its Online Readiness Scorecard it will be revealing later this month.

Patterson said: “We’ve processed the data and are now summarising findings for each brand.

“It is already clear that no one is anywhere near close to maximising the potential of online and most manufacturers are still wrestling with getting the technology in place.”

Patterson said franchised dealers know a change with new car sales is coming and that any brand like Apple or Samsung will have their own direct sales channels online, alongside retailer distribution channels.

Honz said many OEMs have added live chat and virtual demonstration technology to their websites over the last six months during the pandemic, but he said these are being run as a customer support function, rather than sales, which he believes is a missed opportunity.

Honz added: “Nothing is fundamentally broken and in most cases for each OEM there are some quick fixes that would help join some of these customer journeys together.

“For some OEMs that may not even have an e-commerce platform yet, it’s more about losing fewer leads that are already coming into their websites and sending them to franchised dealers in a more meaningful fashion.

“For them, the first step is to improve the quality and number of leads before even embarking on the e-commerce journey.”

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