Car showrooms are closed and so are the income sources, for most. All we can do at present is sit at home and wait for this Coronavirus phase to pass away. While many have work-from-home option, there are others whose line of business doesn’t allow them to do this. Even if you are working from home, what do you do once all assigned tasks are finished. Perhaps like many websites or even ours suggest, watch or read motorcycle/car related stories. What if you are in the mood to buy a car? Where do you go? The internet obviously. This is what these days, car manufacturers are banking on big time. Digital sales. Simple thing. Logon to the carmaker’s website and choose the model. Pay the booking amount online and then pay the rest at the dealership. What’s more one can also sit home and customise a car according to their whims and fancies.
We checked with a few luxury carmakers on how digitalisation has helped them and here is what they have to say.
Since the inception of our online sales platform for cars this year, we have witnessed positive momentum. In February, we received more than 700 enquiries and we have surpassed that number within first 20 days of March. Off late, there is certainly a surge in enquiries, as customers now have the time to go through our offerings in detail at home, Almost all dealers are already a part of the portal and supporting customers in their online buying journey, including delivery and complete customer services support. The customers can visit our online store www.shop.mercedes-benz.co.in to book their car with delivery option from the comfort of home. Currently, the option is available for pre-owned cars, it will soon be available for all the Mercedes-Benz cars. For our merchandise and accessories (collection items), we have our online portal www.shop-mercedes-benz.co.in . We entered into an agreement with Roadster Inc. a US based e-commerce platform for bringing in online sales solutions for Mercedes-Benz in India.
Martin Schwenk, managing director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, said, “Increasingly customers are opting to go online for purchase high-value items, unlike in the past, we certainly see a surge in trend thereby ensured our presence in digital space for these restless customers to meet the customers where he or she is. We see this trend picking up momentum, increasing number of customers like to do their research online, check options and availability. It also allows transparency in terms of pricing along with convenience, which is what the customers like about online bookings. We believe that ordering a car should be as easy as ordering food online – 25 per cent of sales by 2025 will be online.”
Jaguar India has had the online sales platform for more than four years now. For Jaguar cars, the website is findmeacar.in whereas for the Land Rover vehicles, it is findmeasuv.in. The company says that the response has been quite positive. However no specific observations (during the lockdown) were visible.
The common factor is that most of the companies currently don’t have an e-commerce platform. This means a customer cannot do an end-to-end deal on the website. He/she has to go to the company showroom to give the documents and the rest of the money. At present, one can only pay a token reservation amount online and then be directed to the nearest dealer.
Mass manufacturers like Maruti, Hyundai too have similar online booking procedures in place. We feel that the staff needs to be trained to remotely use the systems and help online customers too. If a customer is stuck at any process, the sales representative should have a good knowledge of the systems to be able to guide the prospect. While Mercedes-Benz is the only one to have spoken about the e-commerce option coming into full force soon, we believe other makers too will take a positive step towards this.
Benefits lie in the fact that not only the travel times to the showroom, stockyard and back will be eliminated, physical contact will also be bare minimum. There are also less chances of selling an existing booking at a higher price for an in-demand model as the entire process is digital. Maybe it’s high time we understand and embrace this digitalisation.
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