The impact of digitisation on customer behaviour
Changing rules in new car online sales
- Digitization has already fundamentally changed various industries such as retail, media, travel or restaurants. New companies such as Zalando, Netflix or Lieferando, have managed to shift the business of different industries to the online channels.
The global trends towards digitization and Internet access 24/7 has also changed the way customers buy or want to buy a car. Already 44% of people stated in a recent survey that they would buy a car online. Several other numbers from surveys and studies are very promising with regard to online sales of cars, too:
Six general rules for online sales
As of today, online sales for new cars are mostly driven by customers, who haggle on price. We call them the “informed savers”, who use the online channel primarily for price comparisons and the search for alternative offers.
Besides, there is a second type of customer within the online market for new cars: the “multi-channel customer”, who focuses on the online channel as an integral part and also accepts a higher price if a value added is obvious.
Regardless of the customer types, there are six general rules, Roland Berger has identified when it comes to online sales:
Customers must feel like they are fully informed.
Customers must believe in what they get shown in the online world.
- Ease of use
For the customers the website usability and all digital processes must be clear.
- Seamless integration
Customers must be accompanied throughout the entire sales process.
Customers must be able to enjoy their shopping experience.
The business model itself must be adaptable.
Snapshot of the German market and its players
Today, 10% of all new passenger cars within the private segment are already bought online in Germany. Roland Berger even forecasts that online sales of new cars will double till 2020 to approximately 250,000 units.
Within that movement, the importance of online platforms for sales of new and used cars has steadily increased with leading players expanding their product portfolio from used to new cars in the last few years.
"In future, customers will only spend an hour at the dealer buying a car. The majority of the buying process will take place online."
VP Corporate Development
It is time to enhance existing business models!
Additionally, OEMs are currently entering the market seeing online sales as an essential part within their multi-channel approaches. When comparing Tesla Motors, BMW AG and Daimler AG, the maturity still differs on levels of integration in contrast to the general increasing involvement.
When looking ahead, online sales of new cars is a global phenomenon with new business models emerging everywhere with the US in the lead. They target the price and convenience seeker and either focus on enhancing the entire customer journey or just on specific steps like the vehicle search.
All in all, new entrants enter the market and give some indication, where we might be heading in the future. One thing is sure: It is time to enhance existing business models!
- Photo Credit: Rawpixel Ltd / iStockphoto
Online Sales of New Cars
Automotive sales is under pressure to adapt its business models to meet customer expectations shaped by digital experiences across a breadth of other industries.