Adapting the online customer experience to automotive retail salesConsumer buying habits have radically changed over the past decade, and we have Amazon, Google and others to thank forÂ it. Online shopping is convenient, and cost effective. We can get what we want, when we want it, and have it delivered to our door. But how does this translate to buying a car””one of the most expensive and considered purchases we can make? Clearly it’s not a new TVÂ or this week’s groceries. Capgemini Consulting has focused on the buying behavior of automotive customers from our first Cars Online studyÂ in 1999. Since then, we have seen a steady increase in demand for online sales by our respondents. In December2016, we launched our very first Cars Online Trend Study that explicitly addressed the topic of online sales. In it, 72% of our respondents said they would consider buying their new vehicle online.
Potential for carmakersThe customer appetite for online sales signals a bigÂ opportunity for major car manufacturers. 57% of customersÂ indicated that they would like to buy a vehicle directly fromÂ an automotive brand’s website. By comparison, there isÂ less trust in tech companies such as Google (11%) or onlineÂ retailers (23%). But carmakers should not feel too comfortable.Â Examples such as Alibaba in China or Amazon in Italy showÂ that online retailers are emerging also for cars.
Online-Offline integration is keyRegardless of who is offering new vehicles online, payingÂ attention to the customer experience is paramount. CustomersÂ have clear expectations, which include for example priceÂ benefits, time-savings and the ability to purchase a vehicle thatÂ is not available locally. Additionally, the integration between theÂ online and offline worlds remains the key success factor. 82%Â of our respondents would rather buy a vehicle offline, if it wereÂ the only way to physically experience the product. Also, 60%Â would not buy a vehicle online, if they did not have the chanceÂ to conduct a test drive.
Dr. Rainer Mehl,
Executive Vice President
Automotive Digital Operations
Customers expect a seamless processCustomers are used to seamless one-click-buy experiences.Â Although they don’t expect that for online vehicle purchasesÂ to this degree, a seamless process from the interest phase toÂ the actual purchase of the vehicle is a must. This also takesÂ finance or leasing offers into account. Here, data security andÂ privacy play a significant role. 56% of our respondents demandÂ secure banking options when purchasing a vehicle online. NewÂ technologies such as video-ident or others have the potentialÂ to provide new security solutions for these challenges.
It’s not just about vehiclesOur respondents clearly stated that they expect more thanÂ just the vehicle to be for sale online. Basically everything thatÂ might be available at the dealer should be available online asÂ well, with parts and accessories, insurance contracts, serviceÂ and maintenance packages, and connection services beingÂ the most important ones. In addition to this broader productÂ and service demand, our respondents also stated they wereÂ interested in alternative and innovative ownership models whenÂ buying a new vehicle online, for example, shared ownership.
What happens now?Based on what we have learned, there are seven stepsÂ carmakers should undertake to successfully launch their onlineÂ sales platform:
1. Integrate the physical and online sales experience
2. Position online channel as an additional channel to theÂ existing dealer network, not as a competing one
3. Simplify and standardize the online product portfolio
4. Provide price benefits and negotiation options
5. Integrate the end-to-end portfolio
6. Build trust and secure data environments
7. Launch mobility options to complement traditional car sales
The time for carmakers to change the business modelÂ is now. If they don’t, new market players will.
Download the study at:Â www.capgemini-consulting.com/resources/cars-online-study