Rapid technological innovation, customer behavior, increasing market volatility, product-line proliferation, and shrinking product lifecycles is a major disruption in the automotive industry around the globe.
The upgraded infotainment systems, smart connectivity’s, electric vehicles, unmanned auto-drive, etc. are the few which brought a different landscape to the automobile market.
This landscape was not adopted globally, but companies are striving hard to get there. Continuous innovations are often bringing disruption in automotive sector and changing its dimensions on customer’s mind.
The add-on to this existing disruption is brought by current pandemic (COVID-19). This pandemic forces the auto-sector to bring innovations on customer journey at the purchase level.
The economic climate and ecological uncertainty brings revolutionary changes in the retail and supply chain models where companies are digitalizing the sales/services operational process by extending the digital retailing process for the consumer and also in-home-delivery of the vehicle, just like other ecommerce like Amazon, Flipkart etc.
Global impact into opportunity
According to financial express, usage of personal vehicle is drastically increased while public transport witness decline during pandemic.
Thus, new normal brings a huge opportunity to manufacture mass transit systems, but contactless operational process. People are commuting more by car to avoid close contact on public transports.
Also, they are finding ways to get at-most work done at home. This creates an opportunity for automobile industry especially with the commercial economic vehicles.
People started snooping for the vehicles that they can afford even at cheap price. But how to leverage the opportunity in the new normal is the crux. The term ‘go digital’ address the decisive point by driving several digital strategies.
Customer behavior after COVID-19 (Opting car for commutation)
The people are preferring car for personal or professional commutation in order to avoid close contact with other people on public transports or any other medium. People are accepting the fact that even though it’s an expensive alternative of other transport, personal mobility will become safest way of travel especially with single occupancy. Commuting with single-occupancy is increased on the road when the public transport is shunned.
The civilians are skewed towards the personal commuting rather than shared, acts as a driving force to effectuate the mobility options for the consumer.
A survey done by Capgemini in May had said that more than 57 per cent of consumers in India are considering purchasing a car this year. The number is far higher than the global average of 35 per cent, according to Capgemini.
Expect Social Distancing
Consumers expects the social distancing for shuttling, so that they are preferring personal mobility solutions. But it not stops there, even they hopes for social distancing on the whole customer journey of buying a vehicle. People avoid jostling on dealerships to book or review any vehicle. In contrast, it increases the net natives where the people do all kind of reviews, comparisons, price, customization etc. in internet using mobile or PC or tab.
Recent customer behavior has proven that people searching of car reviews in social media platform, manufacturer videos, test videos etc. This customer behavior and internet platform leads the automobile industry to bring the customer journey digitally to capitalize and catalyze more on it.
Efficient search of auto’s through web
Consumer are not rookie to online research on auto’s, most of the consumer do an extensive online research before they step in to dealership. After COVID-19, due to distancing criteria consumers expect even more information than before.
According to google research along with TNS, even though all auto purchases happen offline, 90% of car buyers research online before setting foot into a dealership.
And once they’re at the dealership, 65% of car buyers will continue to do research on their smartphones. Online clips are very crucial for the one to take decision on buying any automobiles. It helps consumer to take pre-informed decision before they approach on buying.
This gives massive insights to the automotive industry to bring digital showroom experience to the consumer where they can explore more than what they get from dealership.
The online retailing is the new normal for automotive industry. People not only do online research, but also finding ways to book online. Social distancing forces to change the customer behavior from walk-in to dealership to navigate to brand sites for e-booking.
This makes the auto manufacturers to instantly switch from offline transactions to digital transactions and also bringing digital showroom experience to the customers on their brand sites.
Some of the activities that consumers envision on their brand sites are,
- Digital showroom
- Review videos
- VR test drives
- Building customization
- Video assistance
Herewith, the virtual dealership assistance bringing customer journey digitally from research to sales will increase the footfall ever before and ultimately brings revolution on power of buyers.
18% of auto shoppers would buy a vehicle sooner if there was an online purchase option.
Source: Google Surveys, Global, “Global Auto Pulse,”
Expects at-home delivery
Traditionally, dealerships already introduced test drive at home (convenient time with ease) to vindicate the vehicle to take informed decisions on buying. After pandemic, new normal pens customer to demand in-home delivery of their new vehicle. Considering several factors in new normal, automobile industries drive the digital customer journey until delivering the vehicle at footsteps of the customer which in turn brings lot of innovations at this arena. Several trends depict that customer online purchase is more efficient than offline after investing in digital.
For Indian customers, vehicle delivery is in line with the spiritual traditions, delivery is most likely to be happen in dealerships. But sooner than later, customer will adopt to this at-home delivery.
Digital appointments for servicing
Thus the digital customer journey not only stops until sales, but it extends up to servicing. Services constitute the main means for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), authorized dealers, and repair shops, as well as the independent actors involved in servicing the vehicle. The mobile service provider is the one which attracts the customer to take decision on sales in future.
Customers expects service provider to step-in to monitor the vehicle at-home and picks-up to the service center and return. Thus digital servitization further promotes the digital journey of automobile OEM’s in service sector. Customer can make appointment for their vehicle service through mobile phones or tab by locating nearby service centers of that manufacturer and fed the preference by pickup and delivery of that vehicle.
Concluding as future Approach
Unloading everything from disparate systems and load everything into a common data platform (Eg: Data lake) will empower manufacturers and dealers to see customers through common ground. Automobile marketers should support ‘tireless marketing’ and redefine the following
- Common Platform: Integrate systems for governing compliance, inventory management, e-transactions, business management, supply chain and distribution, marketing and much more
- Enables consumers to captivate and experience digital shopping
- Formulating the flow for the consumers to seamlessly move between OEM’s and dealer/brand sites when retailing online
The digital transformation of automobile industry will deliver a coalesced retail model that mix online strategies and traditional dealership focused coactions. The online strategy is still based on dealer focused interactions to facilitate the communication between consumers and dealers from research to sales but not restricted to service.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Irshad Ahamed
Product Specialist at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles deriving digital strategies, passionate towards data science to build analytic products and visual story teller.