Drivers ‘will always need car dealers’

The rise of online car sales does not spell the end for traditional car dealerships, according to car manufacturers.

As a nation, we love shopping online, and buying cars is no different. We are increasingly browsing the web for our next new or used car and many drivers are keen to bypass the process of negotiating with dealers and visiting showrooms altogether.

Some dealers may be alarmed at the rate at which things are changing in the car selling and buying industry, but the future for traditional dealers is far from bleak – providing they are wiling to make some changes.

Major car brands, including Hyundai and Peugeot, have very recently announced plans to make buying a car online even easier with the introduction of tools that allow customers to configure their chosen model and commit to a purchase without visiting a dealership. Hyundai, which has always been a forward-thinking manufacturer, has launched its ‘Click to Buy’ facility and Peugeot is now offering an end-to-end online shopping experience called ‘Order Online by Peugeot.’

These are just the latest manufacturers to join the online sales revolution taking place in the motor industry but, crucially, dealerships still have a very vital role to play in the process.

Speaking to Car Dealer Magazine, the chief executive of Hyundai, Tony Whitehorn, explained: “I think some manufacturers think that they will end up dealing directly with the customer, but that is not how it’s going to work. What will happen is that we’ll do the transaction, but fundamentally, the dealer will do all of the physical process.”

He went on to explain that the handover process is vital to the customer as it allows them to form a valuable relationship with a physical dealership, which is useful when their car is due for servicing, for example.

Peugeot also offers buyers the option of picking up their online purchase at their local Peugeot dealership and this option is bound to be popular among those keen to strike up a mutually beneficial relationship with a dealership, which can offer aftersales services.

Dealers hoping to cash in on the surge in online sales need to ensure they are offering excellent customer aftersales care. They need to become ever-more transparent and flexible in order to offer the kinds of services not available online, focusing on a personalised service and offering advice that drivers can’t get online.

Obtaining comprehensive traders combined insurance is a vital part of providing reliable aftersales services and guaranteeing business continuity, regardless of the challenges your dealership faces.