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The Automotive Industry is Shifting to Digital: The Impact of Covid


Covid-19 has undeniably changed the way businesses operate over this last year-and-a-half. The impact is clear – digital is the way to both survive and strive in the future. Many processes had to be changed to reflect the changing circumstances.

E-commerce is slowly but surely sweeping across the automotive industry and a combined approach of both showroom and digital sales should ensure the success of car dealerships.

E-commerce R(evolution)

Automotive businesses that had a well-established digital presence before the pandemic were on the right track. Dealerships and manufacturers started offering services, such as car delivery, remote click & collect, and an entirely online shopping experience where you can buy a car instantly, as well as agree on F&I digitally.

Car dealers that offer tools, such as an online car finance calculator or have a clear process on applying for it online, are those that are already ahead of the pack. Getting finance and insurance can be one of the more tedious parts of buying a car, so providing customers with a straightforward solution will help your business smash its sales targets.

This is a hassle-free process for everyone involved and also creates a convenient multichannel shopping experience for the customers, which is a win-win.

Integrated Online and Offline Channels

Before purchasing a car, the majority of the people conduct their research online and then go to the dealerships. Now, it’s becoming more common to not only find out more information about the car digitally but also shop from there too.

Stoneacre Motor Group is one such dealer group that has utilised both online and offline channels to create a comprehensive customer experience and choice where people are free to explore their options before stepping foot in a dealership.

Though based in Yorkshire, Stoneacre also operates out of Wrexham, offering cars from such manufacturers as Fiat, Citroen and SEAT, with their stock fully viewable online and all having the option to reserve remotely.

Online Buyer Journey

What’s changed is that more processes in the buyer journey are moving to online channels.

This pushes companies to innovate and explore e-commerce, which is an excellent tool as it caters to the purchase intent stage, as well as creates brand awareness and pushes potential customers further down the marketing funnel and into the prospect of lead-generation.

Not only showing the stock that’s online but also allowing website users to reserve and buy it right there and then, is a huge plus from the customer’s point of view.

Knowing this, it’s no surprise that the demand for buying cars online is soaring. Just taking a quick look at Google Trends will show you that the searches for automotive companies that sell cars exclusively online went up as much as 300% – and keeps growing – with the interest being particularly strong in the Wales region.

Keep up with the Competitors

A current challenge that many more traditional dealerships are facing is keeping up with the innovative and new competitors that push aggressively with their digital strategy.

Staying relevant among the influx of these newcomers could be difficult if nothing is done to attract new customers and retain brand loyalty. This could be done with the likes of offering exciting, novel features on the website, that are also helpful.

These could include booking a specific date and time for a test drive, using a 360 view of the cars and chatbots to aid customers if they have any questions. Having this integrated approach should ensure the success of your automotive brand now and in the future.