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Positive signs for car retail amid COVID-19 lock down, guest opinion

Martin Sewell, managing director, Rockar

Agile and innovative companies are marked by their ability to react to change in markets and environments and that has never been more true than during the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Over the last few weeks at Rockar, we have noticed a significant change in how customers are interacting with our ominichannel retail offering. 

Whilst our store footfall has reduced 31% week on week instore, browsing of our site, completion of orders and requests for delivery slots have all increased with 80% of sales now being completed solely online from the comfort of customers’ homes. 

This has resulted in a record couple of weeks for Rockar on top of our 22% year on year sales growth.

Other parts of the world where remote working, social isolation and other constraints have been put in place have seen a marked rise in internet traffic. 

As we see a shift in the UK government policy to more people being at home, fewer people will visit our store, and we expect to see demand increase on our platform. 

Current trends demonstrate that the market is still highly active. Since Social Distancing started, consumers locating or configuring their ideal car and placing it into a Wishlist is up 82%.

Those ready to buy and place cars into baskets is up 81%. Valuations are growing at an unprecedented 55%.

To meet this demand we have been working on ways in which we can continue to service enquiries, support sales and deliver vehicles in an environment that is changing by the day.

Our platform already allows users to browse and buy online and receive the delivery at home without visiting a store, but this week we piloted our new free Contactless Handover to ensure that all cars in the future can be delivered safely and directly to a customer’s home.  

80% of our customers are now choosing a Contactless Handover. 

Our Delivery Brand Ambassadors are being temperature tested daily, wearing latex gloves and wiping all control surfaces down with antibacterial wipes. This comes with the option of a video handover to ensure a home delivery is a safe option for them.

Deliveries only work if you have someone who can deliver the car and for this reason, we have trained and redeployed some of our existing staff to ensure that we have the capacity to deliver cars as staffing levels and government advice change daily.

For some customers, now finding themselves in a digital world that they weren’t quite as well prepared for, but who are still wanting to buy a car and see or speak to someone, we have extended our live chat service so that customers can ask questions or speak to one of our team from the comfort of their home.

True Omnichannel sales aren’t just about our platform, it’s also the way in which we work with our partners, suppliers, and manufacturers to provide a seamless buying journey for our customers. 

For that reason, we have been working closely with all parts of our supply chain, offering them new services, altering the way we work, and redistributing resources to ensure that orders can be fulfilled effectively and safely.

OEMs are facing unprecedented challenges with factories temporarily shutting down and overseas supply chains stalling.

However, there remain thousands of stock cars across the networks of different OEMs that can be used to meet the increased customer demand we are seeing.

With all these changes, new opportunities arise, new business streams can start, but ultimately we can find those un-met and un-realised customer needs that will bring further innovation in our industry.

Rockar is happy to open up the platform and the way of doing business as part of the move away from lead generation platforms, to a true end to end eCommerce to help the industry get through these difficult times. 

However this is not just about matching needs during a global pandemic, we are seeing an acceleration of how customers want to buy both now and in the future in more certain times.

Author: Martin Sewell, managing director, Rockar


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