Are we entering an era where the traditional car dealership is on the way out? Maybe so, as manufacturers all move towards a more online operation, with remote sales, delivery and servicing at the core of their daily business. What this means for dealers, sales staff, car finance companies and repair garages remains to be seen, but profound changes may be about to transform the UK motor sector. Here’s the news from Citroen;
Citroën UK has unveiled a new online reservation customer journey, to deliver a ‘comfortable’ experience for customers adjusting to the ‘New Normal’. A range of website-based services are now available – including a new Stock Locator system, offering prospective buyers access to physical stock across the country, and an enhanced online reservations system.
This latest introduction allows customers to select a specific stock vehicle and reserve it there and then. Vehicles listed are unsold cars and vans in Citroën UK and dealer stock, so are available immediately. There is no fee to reserve a vehicle. Maximum retention period is five days.
The new reservation platform covers the most popular vehicles in the Citroën range. The platform allows customers to configure their ideal car in its final specification and to reserve it. Vehicles available via the platform are C1, C3, C3 Aircross SUV, C4 Cactus and C5 Aircross SUV. The chosen car is reserved with payment of a £99 refundable reservation deposit.
Home Delivery – No More Sales Persons?
Citroen say that new social distancing means that buying a car is different as an experience; measures include the use of protective covers for the steering wheel, gear stick, driver’s seat and floor mat; controls and steering wheel to be disinfected prior to handover; delivery driver to wear gloves, facemask and safety glasses. Customers are informed to wait three hours before entering their vehicle.
If people become used to shopping for cars online, agreeing a PX price based on photos, MoT history, service receipts etc and can choose the spec, colour, finance arrangements etc themselves, where will the sales aspect fit in? Once you give the consumer total power to name their deal online, there’s no sweetener to close the deal – just box ticking. The new normal could well see many dealerships become service centres and car prep depots – many smaller sites may well close forever. Time will tell.