The recent closure in the USA of Beepi.com the online used car marketplace highlights the challenge facing online entrants into the car retailing market and points to why the dealer model can remain an integral part of car buying for many customers.
“Having raised $150 million and seen its value go as high as $560 million during funding rounds, Beepi.com now represents a high-profile failure. Like other businesses before, the business has demonstrated that the very distinct high value, motor retailing model, with its complex remarketing attributes is not straightforward and requires very different skill sets to other retailing models,” reflects Codeweavers Sales Director Shaun Harris.
It is certainly clear that consumers value the online access that helps them to buy a new or used car. Today, digital is the dominant starting point for the customer’s purchase journey. They want easy access to information and insights across media and devices anytime and anywhere and Codeweavers analytical analysis of customer behaviour demonstrates that many car buyers now want their digital experience to go further to facilitate their planned purchase.
The hurdle to be overcome in the digital car-buying journey is one of confidence; such a large and often emotional investment means buyers still want to see, touch and ‘feel’ the retailer, both online and in person and be confident that their back-up expertise is available to them. The exception being a new car purchase, where the manufacturer brand and brand promise stands tall.
“We have long championed an omni-channel approach to car retailing. This does not just mean just a simple promotional only website. This can create awareness, but falls short of the engagement and confidence building that pulls the customer closer to the dealer and into moving from interest to action. A dealer’s digital presence needs a range of tools to pull the customer through their car buying journey in a way that creates confidence. Commonly, this will be far deeper than just the car itself; finance, part- exchange, aftersales all have a role to play,” concludes Harris.