E-commerce in all its forms – and the growing importance of mobile phones – was discussed and dissected on Car Dealer Live when GForces was the guest.
Head of e-commerce Paul Stokes and sales director Paul Hilton joined host James Batchelor on August 10 to discuss the major shift towards digital sales.
Hilton commented that going on current trends as regards desktop versus mobile, GForces predicted that desktop traffic would be below 20 per cent by the end of 2021, with a corresponding rise in mobile traffic.
Batchelor remarked how Car Dealer had been saying for a number of years that dealers had to have a mobile-optimised website at the very least, and that it was now a case of sooner rather than later. Hilton concurred, stating: ‘By the end of this year it will be 70 per cent at least of all website traffic on mobile devices.
‘The majority of that is obviously iPhone and Android. Those devices work slightly differently, they way they interact, the way they load, the way forms work, so dealers need to take the time to look at their own websites on their mobiles and see what that looks like and how that device works.’
Stokes reinforced the point, saying: ‘We’re seeing that follow through in terms of the transactions going through the platform from an online perspective as well. In fact, 53 per cent of all our transactions that get undertaken, whether that be a reservation or a finance application, are actually done on mobile.’
He added: ‘We’re always looking at ways in which we can improve that mobile experience, and we were the first supplier to introduce Apple Pay a couple of months ago where now a customer can really easily and quite seamlessly use their mobile device through facial recognition to do an Apple Pay transaction.
‘And we’ve seen over 10 million transactions in terms of monetary value in the last couple of months that have now been processed through Apple Pay, so it just goes to show that if you put the ease and simplicity at the customer’s fingertips they will interact with it.’
One of those transactions, Hilton keenly pointed out, was a €21,000 car bought online as an outright cash purchase using a mobile.
As part of the interview, Batchelor asked if, post-Covid, an omni-channel e-commerce strategy was now more of a consideration for dealers.
‘In short, the simple answer to that is without question,’ responded Stokes. ‘It’s probably fair to say that no one could foresee this pandemic coming towards us.
‘It caught dealers out, quite simply. Lights were literally turned off in and across businesses in the UK. That’s had a massive impact in terms of how those dealers now operate, and certainly from a profitability perspective as well.’
He added that they had seen more and more people wanting to adopt and take the thought process of e-commerce further than they had done in the past.
‘And that for me is about contingency, and that’s almost around disaster planning as well and disaster recovery planning in the sense that hopefully we don’t get a second wave but what if we do? You still want to be able to keep the lights on, and to be able to keep the lights on you need to be able to transact in a slightly different way, and online gives that.’
Hilton predicted there would be more regional lockdowns but he said people still wanted to buy locally so dealers needed to be able to adapt and offer digital channels for those who were unable to visit showrooms. ‘It has to be a part of your overall future retailing strategies,’ he said.
Watch the interview in full and see what else Paul Hilton and Paul Stokes had to say about e-commerce by clicking on the main image.
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