‘Omnichannel has killed online’: Catherine Faiers discusses Cazoo and the future of used car sales

  • Catherine Faiers joins us on the latest episode of the Car Dealer Podcast
  • Auto Trader boss says that omnichannel has ‘killed’ online car sales
  • Comments came days after Cazoo scrapped used car sales amid huge losses

Time 10:35 am, March 11, 2024

Auto Trader boss Catherine Faiers believes that retailers adopting an omnichannel approach to used car sales has ‘killed’ the online-only model.

Speaking on the latest episode of the Car Dealer Podcast, sponsored by JATO, Faiers said that the blended approach was far more popular with customers.

She explained that consumers expect the very best of both of both worlds, demanding that retailers provide high quality online and physical options.

Her comments came just days after online disruptor Cazoo announced shock plans to ditch used car sales altogether and become an online marketplace to rival Auto Trader.

You can read what Faiers had to say about the company’s newest rival here.

She told podcast hosts James Baggott and Jon Raey that the role of the retailer is ‘more important than ever’ due to a swathe of new brands and fresh technology.

She said: ‘I think I said that omnichannel has killed online, which might be a bit controversial, but we’ve seen over the last few years that consumers, every time we ask them and in the behaviours we see from them, absolutely value an in-person part of the experience and journey in buying a car.

‘A car is not like buying a book or make-up or cosmetics or whatever else people very very easily and very comfortably buy online very frequently.

‘It is the second most expensive purchase people make. We’ve got huge technology shifts, loads of new entrant brands, we’ve got a product set and a brand set that people don’t know well and don’t understand well.

‘Therefore, the role of a physical retailer in that journey is arguably more important than it’s ever been – not that digital doesn’t matter.

‘I think the challenge that I highlighted [at Car Dealer Live] is that buyers want it all. They want everything.

‘They expect retailers to have this very curated, brilliant digital experience with parts of the buyer journey able to be supported online and then they expect to have personal human experiences on a forecourt or in a physical space as well.

‘That’s the challenge that we’re solving for through our products and that’s the challenge when we speak to most retailers that they’re trying to solve too.’

She added: ‘I don’t feel like this is a seismic shift. I just think it’s just another step on that journey that actually we’ve been on for a couple of years with the evolution of the industry from one that was perhaps more dominated by the physical experience to one that shifted more online during Covid and has now found its new normal for car retailing in the last couple of years.’

Faiers was one of several automotive industry leaders to speak on stage at Car Dealer Live in Gaydon last week.

The conference was another subject discussed at length during the podcast, including top manufacturer execs hitting out at the government’s plans for electrification.

The panel also discussed the news that Big Motoring World is looking to buy 3,500 cars from Cazoo, before the news broke about Peter Waddell’s potential departure.

You can listen to all episodes of the Car Dealer Podcast on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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