Before the lockdown started, a few carmakers had some or the other sort of online car-buying mechanism in place. A few weeks into the lockdown and many have started an online sales platform. Going forward, “an integrated phygital (physical plus digital) platform with digitally-enabled salespersons will become critical success criteria to tap into select consumer segments,” says Vinay Raghunath, partner & leader, Automotive Sector, EY India.
So, how can you buy a new car online?
The steps are:
Set your budget;
Select a model;
Go to carmaker’s website;
Take a test drive;
Negotiate and finance;
But do all carmakers have an end-to-end online sales platform? We take a look.
Last week Hyundai launched the new version of its online automotive retail platform ‘Click to Buy’, which, it claims, is India’s first and only end-to-end online car buying platform, the test version of which was launched in March. ‘Click to Buy’ offers customers dedicated sales consultants, online finance options and loan approval, estimated time of delivery, online test drive booking of sanitised cars, and finally home delivery of sanitised cars. While it is currently available in English, the company plans to launch it in eight Indian languages soon.
The country’s largest carmaker recently partnered with ICICI Bank to offer customised financing solutions, and joined hands with HDFC Bank to offer flexible finance schemes for new car buyers. In a partnership with Cholamandalam Investment & Finance Company, it has the ‘Buy Now Pay Later Offer’, which defers the loan repayment EMI for two months. Its sales channel Nexa also offers easy finance. While you can book a car online on Maruti Suzuki website, the carmaker currently doesn’t have an end-to-end online sales platform.
Kia has an online car configurator on its website that lets you select a model, customise it, get a test drive either at home or office, and even home delivery. There is a dedicated sales representative who will guide you through finance and other options. The website has a link called ‘VR Showroom’ that lets you take a closer look at most car features.
Called ‘Honda from Home’, this online booking platform lets you select a model, choose a dealership, share your details, and pay and book online.
Called ‘Click to Drive’, this platform lets you explore Tata cars and services, reserve a car online, and get price quotation, financing options, estimate on your old car via email, video chat or WhatsApp. It also allows you to either pick up your car at the dealership or have it delivered to your home. The website has a link called ‘Imaginator’ that gives you a detailed look into car features.
Called ‘Own-Online’, this platform lets prospective customers select, customise, compare, book and buy a vehicle. You can also get instant exchange quotes, finance and insurance options, and opt for contactless delivery at a chosen place after making payment.
Audi, Mercedes-Benz, JLR India, Volvo and BMW all offer online booking and sales of their models. Audi India even has an augmented reality feature and a 360-degree product visualiser that lets you see the car in 3D. Under ‘Merc from Home’, you can buy new and used Mercedes-Benz cars.
Separate sales channel?
Online, carmakers say, isn’t a separate sales channel, but it’s a platform that complements dealership sales. “The aim is to increase overall sales,” says Rajesh Goel, senior vice-president & director of Sales & Marketing at Honda Cars India.
It also doesn’t imply that, going forward, carmakers will directly start selling to end-consumers. “Online or offline, a car has to be sold through dealerships; they are not middle men, they are our partners. Direct buying and selling cannot happen; a carmaker cannot directly go to everybody, there have to be channel partners,” adds Balbir Singh Dhillon, the head of Audi India.
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