The automotive sector faces unprecedented disruption. Online can provide a significant advantage, offering opportunities for increased sales volumes and cost efficiency, so it should be no surprise that manufacturers are questioning whether they are maximising the potential of online.
To help with the answer, we have produced an online readiness scorecard for UK car manufacturers, forming an external customer view of the omnichannel car buying experience and the integration of online channels within. The scorecard draws on our Assisted Selling framework, evaluating three key pillars of customer experience, technology, and online proposition.
The Online Readiness Scorecard results are here.
The league table shows that all manufacturers have started on the online journey to some extent. Polestar top the list, closely followed by a leading group including Peugeot, Toyota and Tesla, but many will be surprised to see brands such as Bentley so far down the list.
You can quickly see why Polestar is number one: they provide the best combination of an online proposition, technology and customer experience. If Polestar integrates offline to form an authentic omnichannel experience when the cars become physically available, their score (and undoubtedly the sales) will jump even higher.
The other top performers have a more rounded omnichannel offering, but poor channel integration meant that, at the moment, they lost out to Polestar's pure online strength. The great news is that they all have immediate opportunities for quick wins and improvements along the way.
The remaining manufacturers form a cluster behind the leaders at various maturity stages, some with eCommerce functionality, most without. Three examples, spread across the group, are Volvo, KIA, and Bentley.
Volvo was one of the first brands to provide the ability to buy a car online, but achieving this through replicating the offline experience online dragged the scores down. However, the new 'Care by Volvo' proposition is sector-leading, and when the old buying journey is updated, it will quickly move Volvo to the top of the leaderboard.
KIA, the AM franchise of the year, represents a manufacturer with a website designed to generate leads for their dealers. The website is simple and reliable but would also benefit from several quick wins focused on improving customer experience, conversion, and more efficient nurturing of the leads generated. Once Kia has solidified its foundations, the platform should be ready for online sales.
Beyond getting inspired by the car configurator, online isn't the place to buy a Bentley. Even if eCommerce is not a core strategy for Bentley, there are opportunities to join online and offline journeys and provide a more premium experience as a result.
In summary, all manufacturers have started the online journey; some are further on than most, but quick wins are available for all. For some, it's improving their online sales; for others using online to maximise their offline sales. Regardless of where the transaction happens, providing a great omnichannel experience that supports customers on their buying journey is a must for all.
Once the customer can buy, the car manufacturers can focus on how to sell. This next phase will require setting the right digital culture with omnichannel KPIs, recruiting the right people and processes, using data and insights to drive decision making and generally thinking and acting like retailers, not manufacturers or distributors.
You can find further details in the AM-Online article available here.
If you want to understand more about the methodology, or the results, contact us.