Who’d have thought that an embedded microorganism had the power to cause a drastic change in global business? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened, and the world continues to reel from this raging pandemic. In spite of this, it’s brought about some positive changes, especially in the auto world. Although in April 2020, COVID-19 caused a whopping 97.3% decline in UK’s auto sales, dealerships have embraced change in the way they conduct business in 2021. Curious to discover what these changes are? Read on to find out more.
Increased online auto sales
Technology is the driver propelling the new way of doing business. As the world re-strategised to contain the virus, the car sales industry resorted to online channels for business continuity. The need was extended to automobiles as well, as consumers got used to online shopping. Currently, the UK has recorded a 27% increase in digital car sales, a tremendous improvement over what existed before COVID-19 struck.
The acceleration of online sales, fuelled by increased customer acceptance, resulted in renewed hope and optimism for the car industry. Meanwhile, by November 2020, a majority of dealers resorted to click and collect methods. Even in UK’s second-hand car industry, more dealers and buyers are using click and collect used cars systems.
This system involves selecting, purchasing, and delivering a car without the actual buyer visiting the car dealership. In a few instances where the consumer prefers to pick it up themselves, there are stringent precautionary measures. Thankfully, click and collect systems makes it possible for the auto sales industry to remain in business even with extended lockdowns in the UK.
Solo test drives
Previously, after expressing interest in buying a car at the dealership, the routine was to go for a test drive with a salesperson. Due to COVID, that’s no longer the case. Solo test drives ensure minimal contact for buyers who still visit showrooms and car dealerships. Recently, Trading Standards and the Office of Product Safety and Standards announced the UK’s stance on solo test drives. The catch here is for buyers to have already paid a deposit for the vehicle they are considering. This change was announced during the UK’s third COVID lockdown.
Moreover, as showrooms remain closed until April 12, 2021, the dealer and the buyer must abide by certain rules. For example, both should mutually agree on where the delivery can be made for a test drive. The location can be at the buyer’s home. Better yet, it can be anywhere else away from the dealership. Even though it’s a solo test drive, a Coronavirus risk assessment should first be carried out with documentation to prove it. Other vehicle testing procedures can be carried out later.
A move towards Augmented Reality showrooms
Already, some UK auto industries are considering maximising their usage of AR in car dealerships and showrooms. As automotive retail continues to shift a lot more towards customer-centric sales methods, it has solved the problem of limited physical inventory. In other words, even with the physical unavailability of a specific car model, AR technology makes it possible to view it. This is especially useful to smaller car dealerships looking at making effective use of their space.
More changes are expected as the auto industry looks for alternative means to maintain consumer interest. Even so, the underlying objective is to maximise profit and make up for the drastic shortfall recorded in April 2020.