The technology gap between used car disruptors and established franchise and independent dealers has been closed thanks to successive lockdowns, iVendi has said.
The motor retail tech specialist believes that being forced to trade online for extended periods of time has meant that many dealers have much improved their online sales operations.
James Tew, iVendi CEO, (pictured) said: ‘We’ve been saying for some years that even the smallest independent dealer can provide a comparable service to a digital disruptor with access to many millions of pounds of funds. During the pandemic, that has started to happen.
‘For a relatively low cost, any used car retailer can offer a complete online digital journey that includes a stock search, finance calculator, part exchange, finance application, final sale and delivery.
‘These tools are generally presented as the USP of the disruptor but we now have all kinds of dealers in all kinds of places who can offer exactly the same kind of online journey, having adopted them during the pandemic.
‘The fact is that if you haven’t offered at least some of those facilities, you’ll probably have had a pretty tough time financially over the last year and maybe not even survived.
‘They’ve become a prerequisite to successful used car retailing.’
Tew explained iVendi had seen a rapid programme of digitisation among its dealer customer base during the pandemic year.
‘We’ve seen two key trends,’ he said. ‘Previously, many of our dealers who digitised a few elements of their sales process online have now evolved a more comprehensive online buying experience.
‘At the same time, and this has been enabled by our new product range, we’ve seen a move towards what we are calling “connected retailing” which is a retail model that works equally effectively for online or showroom sales, allowing consumers to switch between these two channels while delivering a consistent and seamless experience.
It’s clear that most digital buyers still like the reassurance of a showroom and that most showroom buyers still like to do their research online
‘For us, this approach is very much the one that we believe is right for the foreseeable future. While we are sure that more and more sales will continue to move online, we still see a key role for the showroom well into the future.’
He added that the fact that some digital disruptors were also adding a showroom element to their offering illustrated similar thinking.
‘Going forward, we believe there will be places in the used car sector for digital-only and even showroom-only operators but their potential will be quite limited.
‘It’s clear that most digital buyers still like the reassurance of a showroom and that most showroom buyers still like to do their research online.
‘The dealers that thrive in the future will be those who can meet the needs of both of those extremes of customer and, because of the way that the lockdowns have driven the industry, many dealers now have access to the technology to do so.’
- Join our breaking news WhatsApp group
- Listen to the latest Car Dealer Podcast
- List of the Top 100 profitable car dealers in the UK