Return to trading likely to prompt “step change” in online motor retail

Dealers returning to trading as the lockdown eases are likely to prompt a “step change” in online motor retail, iVendi believes.

A shift away from showroom-based interaction seems inevitable in the medium term at least and a recent uptick in interest from dealers who want to upgrade their online presence has already been seen by the company says James Tew, CEO.

He 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.”

James reported that iVendi had seen a surge in interest in its online retail products over the last week as the industry had begun to look to return to trading – but that quite difficult issues needed to be resolved for some retailers.

“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.

“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 web site bolted on but will have integrated their physical and online operations completely.”