Hello I will just introduce myself to mention how I have ended up here and why. My name is Nick Maddren and I am a web developer that works for a medium sized franchise group. My job is to basically maintain the websites within the group and maximise online enquiry emails across sales, service and so on.
Recently I have noticed that the Used Car trade is being revolutionised in the US, I'm not sure if you have heard of any of the following companies but they really are quite fascinating:
Basically all of these companies make used car buying super easy for buyers. A customer can basically buy any of their stock online without visiting a showroom or calling the dealership, better yet the vehicle gets delivered to you and you can return it within 7 days if you don't like it. It sounds too good to be true however there is some serious hype about this method of buying a used car in the US, in fact some of these companies have been valued into the billions. It really does seem to be a thriving method of buying a used car over the pond and why shouldn't it work right? I mean everything else we buy is available online from groceries, takeaways, hot-tubs, whole kitchen sets... you name it and it's possible to buy it online, apart from cars in the UK.
I think the reason we haven't started making actual used car sales online in the UK is because it is pretty complex. There are so many factors to a deal such as finance, part exchange etc and I think this is the reason it is so hard to make deals online.
Why do customers even need to buy cars online you might be thinking... I feel like people are a lot more brave online, for example I don't think they mind enquiring about something just because of how easy it is. It's a fact that car buyers find the current buying process very daunting and even picking up the phone to enquire about a used car can be a little bit uncomfortable for some buyers, especially the younger generation. Just Eat is probably harder to use than actually phoning the take away however they still use it to avoid having to deal with someone on the phone, it's pretty crazy really... Don't get me wrong a take away is a little bit different than a £12k car however people just feel more comfortable using these digital methods of contact for some reason.
So I put an idea of mine to a friend who owns a few dealerships that sell used cars only. Here is the idea:
Basically to develop a 'buy now portal' on his website that would allow customers browsing his vehicles on his website to actually leave a deposit on a car they like and also have the deal prepared all on the website. Basically when the buyer presses a buy now button they submit various details about themselves such as their personal contact info, part exchange info (if they have a part exchange) and finance info (if they would like to finance the vehicle). Once these steps have been completed they are then connected to a sales exec from the dealership via live chat (Like Facebook Messenger), the buyer can see details about the deal such as monthly price and part exchange price. If the buyer is happy with the deal offered they are then able to leave a deposit and secure a car. The sales process is then complete without a single phone call or visit to the showroom and the only step next is for the both parties to inspect the retail car and part exchange on the handover.
My friend told me in short that this wouldn't work and I tried to explain that some people really like to enquire online but don't like to have to wait, they would like an answer there and then however he then said that it could possibly loose him sales as if the buyer didn't like the part exchange price offered they could just disconnect from the live chat and go to another dealer. I'm not sure I agree with this because if the buyer did disconnect the sales person could use the personal details the buyer submitted to actually give them a call and ask what they need to do for their business.
Do you think the system I have explained would work as a good sales asset or not and if not could you explain to me why you think so? Buying used cars online is really thriving in the US and I want to know from actual dealers why it can't be done in the UK?
Thanks for reading, Nick Maddren