With Covid-19 changing consumer behaviour, automotive brands that further digitise the car-buying experience are better poised for post-pandemic success, suggests new insights from Google.
Expectations are changing, and now more than ever, people want the ability to buy and engage with the brand from the comfort of their home, Nikhil Bansal, Head of Industry, Automotive, Google India, said in a blog post.
As a result of the pandemic, there is a rise in consumers’ desire for their own personal mode of transportation.
Online intent for automobile purchases in India is back to pre-lockdown levels after a 30-35 per cent drop.
The India Auto Pulse report also found that over 45 per cent of consumers have plans to buy a new car sooner, despite some markets reporting a recession.
But over the years, the window to influence purchase decisions through offline efforts has gotten smaller.
Four out of every five people living in India who are considering buying a car said they would use an online purchase option if it were available, according to the Auto Pulse report.
Moreover, nearly a third of all potential buyers would buy a car sooner if they had an online option and could avoid visiting a dealership, it added.
According to Shashank Srivastava, Maruti Suzuki’s Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, web-based sales inquiries have risen from 3 per cent to 39 per cent over the last three years, a finding that suggests car buyers want auto dealers to make it easier for them to purchase from home.
“As walk-ins to showrooms have significantly reduced, we are working with auto dealers to engage with customers on digital platforms,” said Shashank.
Tarun Garg, Hyundai Motor India Ltd’s Director of Sales and Marketing, said online car research has gradually increased over the last two years.
“Social distancing requirements make online discovery even more attractive to car buyers. Therefore, auto dealers should invest in digital platforms and upskill their sales teams to secure digital consumers,” Bansal said.
“To start, set up a digital desk at your dealership. Think beyond online bookings and consider personalising the digital and in-dealership experience for your customers by being helpful and supportive.
“Include options for virtual consultations, online loan processing, online insurance, or online after-market services for customers who feel more comfortable staying at home,” Bansal said.
One can also provide links to credible third-party reviews and pre-empt customers’ concerns and questions that can be shared via email, he said, adding that auto dealers should also consider alternatives for people who do not want to visit a physical dealership.