Dealers are likely to prompt a step change in online motor retail once they return to trading.
That’s according to motor retail digital technology specialist iVendi, which says a move from the showroom business model seems inevitable.
It added that it had already seen a rise in interest from dealers wanting to upgrade their online presence.
CEO James Tew, pictured, said: ‘The showroom-based retail model has persisted in the motor industry for much longer than almost any other sector but, for the medium term at least, that picture is likely to change and perhaps substantially.
‘Even if the government allows dealers to reopen their doors in June, consumers are likely to remain wary about utilising showrooms in numbers for the foreseeable future and, in truth, a socially distanced premises may just not be much fun to visit.
‘There is every reason to believe that click-and-collect and home delivery will be the dominant methods of trading as we emerge from lockdown, and that showrooms will become more like fulfilment centres where vehicles are processed.
‘There will be some face-to-face vehicle retail, but it will probably be relatively limited.’
Despite the surge in interest in its online retail products, though, there were still some fairly difficult issues to resolve for some dealers.
‘The issue is not the technology itself. We can demonstrate that the technology works, can be easily integrated into almost all dealer systems, and is cost-effective,’ said Tew.
‘Where issues are much more likely to arise is in retailers having to create real-world processes that align with the technology where they don’t currently exist, such as to enable click-and-collect. This is probably a much bigger task than enhancing your website to enable a complete online purchasing process, for example.
‘In a sense, this is where we are going to see the real step change.
‘Our view is that however the coronavirus crisis is resolved, showrooms will continue to have an important part to play but all dealers will have effectively digitalised themselves.
‘Even the most traditional will no longer be a showroom with a website bolted on but will have integrated their physical and online operations completely.
“We believe that conditions are going to be difficult over the coming months and probably years in the motor industry but also, for us, this is a moment when we can prove exactly how well online processes work when it comes to selling vehicles.’
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