A recent survey of dealer attitudes carried out by Cap HPI has revealed there are some concerns in the industry about the impact click to buy will have on the market.
The survey discovered that 54 per cent of dealers consider click to buy features – where drivers can buy cars online with the click of a button, without necessarily stepping foot inside a physical dealership – a threat to the physical retail market. Some 45 per cent said they expect the changes to result in lower profits.
Interestingly, these figures come despite the fact that Cap HPI's February Dealer Survey found that dealers are currently finding their online sales are doing as well as their physical in-dealership sales. That has been the case for two months in a row, according to the figures.
Phillip Nothard, Cap HPI's retail and consumer specialist, made a statement about the concerns dealers have regarding click to buy. He said that the way in which dealers respond to this new way of selling cars is key to cashing in on the trend: “There is potential for a clicks and bricks retail model, epitomised by Argos, where sales volumes are increased by empowering the consumer to choose their purchase route.
“Each manufacturer is approaching the growth of this channel and the relationship with their dealer networks in different ways. This may well have an impact on the results,” he added.
However, the survey also found that some dealers were quite unsure about whether consumers even want to buy their cars online, with 43 per cent claiming that consumers aren't ready. This provides an opportunity to encourage buyers to do research online before visiting dealerships for expert advice and a face-to-face negotiation and sales process.
Independent dealers wishing to attract buyers into their dealerships will need to invest in customer service and customer experience. Making sure staff offer a level of expertise and consumer-focused service, through training, can help to drive footfall, while stocking attractive new models can also encourage drivers through the dealership door. Dealers must, however, update their motor trade insurance policy to reflect any investments and new stock.