Volkswagen UK’s focus on blending the digital and physical experiences in the consumer journey to buying a new car is evident on the brand’s consumer website. From the homepage onwards, it is a user-friendly experience, optimised to the device the consumer is using and following a logical pathway, with options to configure a car of the customer’s choosing and to take the first step towards a physical experience.
Of course, being able to download a brochure or request a test drive is nothing new for any carmaker’s website. Such functions have been a steady supplier of leads to franchised networks for several years now.
However, Volkswagen.co.uk has taken this a step further and is enabling consumers to see exactly which cars are on the demonstrator fleet at their nearest Volkswagen showrooms and to book an actual test drive by date and time.
Volkswagen UK says the Golf, which we’ve been testing for the past six months, is the most requested car through this function, so AM decided to give it a trial. The results were mixed. We were impressed that our nearest retailer, Robinsons in Peterborough, displayed a 1.4TSI Match and a 2.0TDI GT as available. However, the results for five other Volkswagen retailers, all within a 45-mile radius of AM’s office, simply stated “model information unavailable”.
A Volkswagen UK spokeswoman said there has been a 75% take-up within the network, but the function does rely on dealers to upload their cars. “Clearly there’s an advantage to the retailers to have the cars showing as it does drive traffic – both physically and metaphorically,” she said.
“As with any of our ‘blended retailing’ tools we would of course like all retailers to use it all of the time, but we are moving in the right direction. There are benefits in terms of leads for the retailer, and it also helps the customer – say, if they’re browsing out of hours, it’s a lot easier and more convenient to do it like this and helps to build that seamless online/offline journey.”
On uploading the cars, the front end of the Volkswagen website links with the individual dealership’s lead management system, so booking details go directly back to the consumer’s chosen retailer.