Amid the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic car manufacturers have been undertaking several digital initiatives. Online business seems to be the current solution, but is this really the new norm? Read below to learn more.
Customers seek personal interaction
According to Vinkesh Gulati, Vice President, Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA), online has always been the first inquiry source. Car dealers had been receiving leads from online sources even before the COVID-19 period. Due to restrictions on public movement and social distancing norms, there has been a marginal surge in online business. However, the increase in online business is only because of current market conditions and a major section of potential customers still prefer a personal visit to the showroom. The traditional process of personal interaction is still sought after as compared to the digital medium.
India currently has more than half a billion internet subscribers, however the adoption is uneven. Not every person who buys a car today is comfortable with making a transaction online. A potential customer still prefers taking a test drive and a visit to the showroom to finalise the colour option, deals, payments, etc. Back in April, CarWale had conducted an online survey to learn more about the buyer affinity towards online car bookings. The results revealed that only 25 per cent of the buyers were willing to book a car online, while the rest 75 per cent wanted to visit the showroom to book the car. To learn more about the CarWale survey, click here.
Digital is a secondary source
He also said, unlike what is said about digitisation being the future of business, a majority of car dealers believe that online business is only a secondary source. In the post pandemic world, customers will go back to opting for personal showroom visits. That said, the online business will continue to perform as it always did with neither too much increase or drop in sales.
The interaction also revealed that due to the ongoing pandemic, some of the dealers are exercising extra caution while handing out the vehicle to an unknown person or sending the vehicle at containment zones for test drives. Moreover, the car dealers believe that the online leads only provide an additional push to the existing business which is strongly driven by the touch and feel factor.
Car sales will improve in the months to come and a majority of the sales will be after dealership visits. One of main reason for it being so is the personal interaction with the brand officials. Test drives will continue to be the main deciding factor during car purchase and digitisation will just offer added convenience in completing the buying process. In the post COVID-19 world we expect the traditional car buying process to be retained while digitisation will continue to offer supplementary support.