More bad news for car dealerships, as manufacturers continue to transform the buying experience into a completely online transaction, with remote delivery on new vehicles. The entire process seems to be heading towards a world where there are no physical interactions between car sales staff and buyers, just emails and chatbots.
That could be a good thing for insurers in some ways, as products like 5-day cover can be sold via portals, but annual or PAYG insurance may need true, long-term partnership with manufacturers, assuming they wish to sell monthly insurance plans as part of a monthly lease price. There are challenges and opportunities ahead – but only the insurers who are very good at marketing their brand values in the virtual world, are likely to win more business.
The big question mark is whether car buyers will actually want to visit a dealership to colect a new car at all, or simply have it delivered to their home or workplace. Once that buying habit is broken, it will be difficult to persuade many buyers to return for servicing work. That is a fundamental change in the marketplace.
Here’s the latest from Citroen UK, which gives an insight into how contactless the buying decision is becoming.
Hot on the heels of its Virtual Showroom service, Citroën UK is now offering customers the opportunity to complete their entire purchase, exclusively and simply, from the comfort of their own home – from browsing the website and using the car configurator, to personalising their finance options, valuing their part exchange, selecting their preferred retailer, and placing an order online.
The entire process can be completed in 20-30 minutes through the dedicated web portal, with experts on hand via phone, email and live chat to help guide customers through the process. What’s more, potential customers are able to enjoy key models at exclusively lower Citroën Store prices.
Following a successful pilot in France, the UK is the first market to enable customers to complete their purchase without visiting a retailer, before the service is made available worldwide later this year.
Citroën introduced its new Virtual Showroom last month, offering a detailed live walk around of models, including C3 Aircross Compact SUV and C5 Aircross SUV. The brand’s new electric, plug-in hybrid, petrol and diesel models, including Citroën C5 Aircross Hybrid and New Citroën C4 and all-electric ë-C4, are set to be added in the coming months. Buyers can book live walk-around tours of the vehicles via the web portal, during which an expert Product Presenter will use the latest video technology to introduce the vehicle and answer any questions over a secure video link. The vehicles are displayed in a bespoke showroom viewing area fitted with high-definition cameras.
Eurig Druce, Managing Director of Citroën UK, said: “Citroën is dedicated to increasing convenience by offering greater access to our products and services than ever before, while maintaining the same quality showroom experience our customers are used to when visiting one of our physical Retail sites.
“In light of the crisis, we know more and more customers are reassessing their purchase decisions, and want to buy their next car from a brand that they trust. By creating a more user-friendly digital journey, and encouraging online shopping, we hope to extend the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme beyond just great products, and into the services and experiences we offer our customers.”
To celebrate the arrival of new Citroën Store, customers can enjoy specific Citroën Store pricing with exclusive online discounts already applied. Citroën customers who wish to have their vehicle financed on PCP can apply through PSA Finance, and determine their deposit and payment schedule from home. Key September offers include, the C1 city car available from £139* per month and New C3 supermini available from £179** per month, whilst the ever popular Citroën SUV range can be enjoyed from £199*** per month for C3 Aircross Compact SUV and £209**** per month for C5 Aircross SUV. Once ordered a customer can ask a retailer for home delivery, where available, or to collect from their local dealership.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, strict processes are followed at the Virtual Showroom to protect staff, and all home deliveries will be conducted while observing safe hygiene and social distancing guidelines, with personal protective equipment provided to drivers. Customers who wish to visit a retailer in person will experience the same care and attention to safety guidelines from dealership staff.
To find out more about buying online with Citroën, visit: https://store.citroen.co.uk/