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Cazoo and Carzam issues suggest not all online car retail is created equal, opinion

Peter Brown, chief executive officer at Drivvn

It’s been a busy few weeks for headlines covering the demise of Carzam and a £200m cost reduction programme at Cazoo.

Many pundits have rushed to write off the online model for vehicle sales and cited a consumer preference for visiting the dealership.

The new car world is perhaps a simpler proposition for online retail, but the sales figures from the eCommerce platforms that drivvn manage for manufacturers suggest a growing appetite for online sales. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the move to digital automotive retail is ramping up rather than plateauing.

As eCommerce experts, drivvn works to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience for car buyers. It’s important that consumers can switch their journey between the online store and physical dealership as easily as possible.

It’s an approach that saw sales on drivvn platforms grow by 85% in 2021, with a 38% increase in the number of brands it supports. Total sales topped £588m, an 49% increase and overall sales volume increased by 54%.

Vauxhall has seen over one in five (21%) UK retail sales in March ordered online. The result marks a record month for online sales for the manufacturer and highlights the acceleration of online automotive retail since the pandemic.

Increasingly, manufacturers are moving to the agency model choosing particular models and markets to sell exclusively direct, for example, the Citroën Ami.

The pandemic created a watershed moment for the automotive industry that saw manufacturers and retailers accelerate their digital plans. The industry has seen rapid growth of buy online functionality and the enhancement of digital customer journeys.

Vast sums of money have been spent creating showrooms that reflect the brand and create an excellent customer experience. They often come with kids' entertainment areas and customer lounges with cafes. When the same care and attention are put into the digital retail experience, it can create a similarly positive customer experience.

As technology advances and data becomes more interconnected, digital stores will continue to evolve. From an OEM perspective, an omnichannel sales approach should be designed to improve the buyer experience, enhance the brand and support retailers.  Customers benefit from a seamless journey from a website to the showroom and increased personalisation.

Digital tools can engage and inform buyers to sell more vehicles. The ability to inform buyers is essential in the transition to electric vehicles. The team at drivvn has developed a comparator tool that helps buyers make better-informed decisions. Real-time data feeds allow users to compare factors from range and fuel cost to the congestion charge eligibility. Total Cost of Ownership data enables users to build a true picture of owning an electric vehicle.

Internally, teams benefit from a single customer view that covers all on and offline touch-points through the sales journey and provides aggregated insights to optimise and improve all-important conversion rates.

Author: Peter Brown is the CEO of drivvn.
 

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