The Future of Car Sales: Click, Collect and Cruise

By Hedley Aylott, CEO and Co-Founder, Summit

Cast your mind back 10 years and you might have been dubious about buying products online. Would the product be right? Could you trust the retailer to send you your product? Would returning it if it wasn’t right be a hassle? Today, we don’t even give it a thought when it comes to buying products such as groceries, fashion and tech; it’s simply part of the staple of everyday life. Now the next shopping revolution is taking place; buying a car online.

Last year alone £133bn was spent through online shopping in the UK, increasing by 16% year on year. This growth is showing no signs of slowing down, and more industries are looking to get a piece of the action. One industry that is really focussed on boosting its online presence is automotive.  

A few years ago it would have been unheard of to decide to buy a car without taking it for a test drive, but new technology is making it possible and consumer habits are changing alongside. In fact, some consumers are putting their trust in the car manufacturers so much that they don’t even need to take it for a drive before buying. Data from Hyundai shows that the number of customers who opt to take a test drive of their future purchase, is now only just over half (53 per cent). Of those that are taking a test drive, it’s likely the buyer will only visit one showroom; a few years ago it was three. It’s all change, at lightning speed.

Hyundai, Peugeot and Smart have all recently launched ecommerce platforms, allowing consumers to choose a car and checkout online. The buyer can choose exactly what they want, right down to the colour and engine size, trade in their old car, organise the finance terms and decide where they want it delivered. All in half an hour and from the comfort of their own home. It’s truly revolutionary for the industry and could change the future of the traditional retail model for the automotive industry forever.

We recently worked with Peugeot on their brand new ecommerce platform, Order Online. The aim of the online solution was to create a connected dealership – bringing together the world of the traditional showroom and combining it with the convenience of online shopping. Putting its customers at the heart of the buying process was a critical part of introducing the technology. In order to succeed with this approach retailers need to think hard about what their consumers want, and deliver it in a way that aligns with their product.

With UK car sales at a record high in 2016, the potential for these online platforms is huge. Last year 2.69 million cars were sold in the UK according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – there is clearly a huge market for these sales to grow even further with the convenience of online. With 71% of the British population now being an online shopper it’s the perfect time for the automotive industry to drive forward. 

As we see this new technology provide solutions for big ticket purchasing, brands will benefit from the trust they have built with their customers. By offering consumers something truly innovative, and by adapting and modernising their ecommerce platforms, brands can ensure they don’t lose out in the online race.

About the Author

Hedley Aylott is CEO and Co-founder of global online retailing specialist Summit

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