Is It Time To Start Offering Online Sales?
With online sales continuing to rise, should you start offering this service?
For several years now, more and more motor trade related products and services have moved online, such as booking an MOT, service or replacement tyres, so if you’ve not yet embraced the internet, could online vehicle sales be the next big thing for your business?
The growth of online sales was a key topic in the motor trade world in 2017, and many vehicle sellers already offer this service.
Many big-name vehicle repair brands allow customers to book certain products or services such as MOTs, servicing and tyre changes online, and for services that can only be performed after a physical check on the car has been done, the ability to book that initial consultation is also available.
Not every small to medium motor trade business has the resources available to compete with the look and usability of the websites belonging to the big-name brands, but this has paved the way for third party services to enter the market that allow motor traders to take online bookings.
Even if you run a small business or are a part-time motor trader without the capacity to offer online sales, it’s definitely something to keep your eye on, and consider as your business grows. According to Buyacar.co.uk, in 2016 there was a 41% increase in online car sales, and whilst the figures for 2017 are yet to be published, the signs are pointing to a greater, or at least similar, annual increase.
According to research carried out by Santander Consumer Finance, almost a third of vehicle dealers see online car sales as a ‘growing threat’. Director of Marketing and Innovation at Santander Consumer Finance, Andy Green, said: “Technology is driving structural change across the motor industry and dealers have to work hard to provide the service and connectivity that car buyers expect which means being on top of technological change.”
If you were to begin online sales, the key demographic to target would be motorists between the ages of 18 and 35, as a YouGov survey conducted for TrustPilot revealed that over a third of those polled would buy a car online, compared with the overall average of one in four.
Partner Director of Trustpilot, Neil Bayton, said: “For those seeking to appeal to Millennials, the message is clear, build a compelling digital experience that provides access to the buying and service experiences of others. By doing so you’ll appeal to Millennials on their terms as our research clearly shows this segment is ready to buy online. The winners in the industry will be those that embrace change and transformation.”
Fresh research has indicated that the car dealer can still play a pivotal role when consumers buy cars. The research, which was conducted by Black Horse, found that 45% of car-buyers want face-to-face advice from a dealer, when purchasing a vehicle.
The demand was strongest for the over 55s, as 52% of that age group surveyed said they want face-to-face guidance, but surprisingly 18-24 years old were close behind at 51%.
Managing Director, Richard Jones, said: “It’s clear that people still value the role of the car dealer and need the guidance they provide as part of the overall buying journey. This seems particularly true of the younger generation, especially in the area of finance.
“Of course we recognise that digital has an important role to play in research and selection and that an integrated buying experience, one of both bricks and clicks, is the model of the future. So we need to put ourselves in the strongest possible position to deliver a great car buying experience.
“A core element of this is demonstrating our professionalism by being able to answer questions, provide clear explanations and help customers understand their options so they make fully informed decisions on the most suitable choice for them. An emphasis on training will help further develop the already excellent levels of knowledge and expertise on forecourts across the UK.”
The research from Black Horse shows that buying online still isn’t the favoured option for everyone, especially those in a younger age group who may be making a purchase for the first time, and of course the older age group who will be more used to making big purchases offline.
An online presence is still very important, whether it’s selling your cars, stock or services online, or simply advertising your products or services on the internet, with a view to driving customers in to your garage, forecourt or premises. Having an easy way for customers to view what your motor trade business has to offer, as well as having easy access to useful information such as opening hours and location, can be more than beneficial.
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