The automotive retail market is currently in a state of flux, both in the UK and worldwide. Some traditionally large markets appear to be in decline while smaller ones are gaining ground.
The internet is playing a prominent part in the retail process and automotive retail market economy, with increasing numbers of customers making purchases online and many more carrying out their own extensive research independent of local dealerships. Technology-driven trends including autonomous driving, the rise of electric vehicles and increased connectivity are also playing their part in changing the automotive retail UK market, as well as the wider international markets beyond.
Research from global consultancy McKinsey & Company has produced some eye-opening statistics, including the following:
- The number of dealerships in China has doubled in the last five years, while those in Europe and the US have fallen by 15%
- Around half a million cars are traded on eBay Motors each year
- Europe’s biggest online automotive marketplace, AutoScout24, attracts over 300 million car profile visits every month. More than a third of consumers say they would consider buying a car online
- Nearly 90% of customers use dealer or OEM websites as part of their decision-making
- 85% of customers still use dealer touch-points and more than 80% take test drives
The fact that the majority of customers still use dealership websites as well as visiting in person to view and test-drive vehicles is encouraging for traditional retailers. However, McKinsey & Company also reports that one in four are not satisfied with their dealer experience as part of the car buying process.
Rising to the challenge
In a volatile automotive retail market, the onus is firmly on dealers to deliver a consistent, measurable and, above all, high-quality customer experience. In the evolving automotive market, brand loyalty is no longer dependable and product differentiation is slim.
- Improving the customer experience is key and there are a variety of ways to achieve this while addressing the challenges of the changing automotive market.
- It is imperative to realise that customers are seeking information online. The visit to the showroom is often now one of a number of steps in the customer’s car buying process. Providing multi-format communication channels that offer genuine value to the customer, rather than just a sales pitch, can be one way of enhancing the overall customer experience.
- Sales staff also need to be responsive to a new breed of customer who is able to research the products and access information themselves. Auto-technology is constantly evolving and this means that product details and vehicle feature lists also change rapidly.
- Increasing learning access and flexibility for sales staff is essential, but it isn’t feasible or productive to expect individuals to be able to retain specifications and other necessary information pertaining to every product available.
- Deploying mobile learning devices such as tablets within the showroom itself can ensure that employees have access to accurate information, ensuring that they are able to provide or confirm details and information that adds value to the customer.
In an ever-changing automotive retail market, the industry itself must be flexible, dynamic and adaptable enough to respond to fluctuating circumstances and customer expectations. Discover how training dealership staff can improve customer experience in automotive retail.