Capgemini: Online channel for car sales increasing

13 August 2014

Over the past years the number of consumers that shop online has – driven by the rise of the internet and other large technological innovations – increased dramatically. By 2020, analysts forecast that online transactions could reach 450 billion per day. Although e-commerce first made its introduction in markets for ‘low-priced’ products, such as books and clothes, there is an increasing trend visible that online shopping is rapidly winning ground in more ‘high-priced’ markets, such as for instance the car market. A new report from Capgemini reconfirms this trend, concluding that nearly half of the current generation is likely to buy their car online.

For more than a decade business advisory firm Capgemini studies, in collaboration with research firm ORC International, the key developments in the automotive market. In its latest report – titled ‘Cars Online 2014 – Generation Connected’ – the researchers asked more than 10,000 consumers across 10 countries* for their preferences when purchasing a car. In addition, they looked at how the automotive industry can adapt their business to meet the demands of customers and how they can build stronger connections with them.

Capgemini - Online channels

‘Generation Connected’
In its report, Capgemini calls today’s consumers the ‘Generation Connected’, a generation that considers online as the primary channel for communication and is ‘highly connected’ with other people and brands. As a result of this internet connectivity and the continuous access to accurate information, car consumers in present day are confident about what they want and how they want to purchase this. They feel secure in using technology – such as the internet – to increase their power as car shoppers, says Capgemini.

Against this background, ‘Generation Connected’ consumers are highly willing and likely to purchase a car online. 97% uses the internet for research, concludes the report, and 44% that actually purchased a car over the past year has done so online. The survey also shows that this number is even higher for young consumers and shoppers in growth markets. For instance, only 34% of shoppers in the United States stated that they would buy their car online, while in China this number was as high as 61%.

Likelihood to purchase a vehicle online

A key motivator for ‘Generation Connected’ to purchase cars online, in addition to a better price, is the information/knowledge factor. When searching for a car online, consumers can access the needed information anytime they want and anywhere they want. Not only can potential buyers find the specifics of a certain car, they can in addition find satisfaction levels of drivers and dealer reputations, often as part of rankings or through social media. Moreover, an increasing number of consumers trusts user-generated content – the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ – and are themselves eager to share opinions and experiences online.

Game changer
For car dealers, the rise of the online channel is a potential game changer, state the researchers. Their focus will gradually shift from front-end (i.e. sales) to back-end (i.e. service). “I suspect [in the future] few people will use the person-to-person service offered by a traditional dealer. Online services will be used to configure cars, get the best price, arrange a test drive, and even purchase and arrange delivery. The only time a dealer will be visited will be for servicing,” says a respondent from the United Kingdom. In addition, car dealers will have to rethink their business model, as the margins guaranteed during physical purchase of a car will gradually be eroded by the online channel, the result of among others increased transparency and competition from ‘online-only’ business models. 

Capgemini - Cars Online 2014

Yet the online channels does not only bring gloomy news for car dealers – at the same time it offers large new opportunities. It offers them the opportunity to enhance customer relationships through better communication and information, or even create completely new customer contact points through innovative online approaches. From a cost view, the digitisation of operations allows car dealers to boost their efficiency and at the same time improve the performance of key metrics as lead generation, average acquisition costs or service quality.

Key to success
For car dealers, the key to success lies in two factors, state the researchers. Firstly, they will have to embrace the digital reality, adapt their business model to it and work hard to implement a future-proof operational model. Acting quickly is paramount, before “others take a share of the pie”, warns Capgemini. Secondly, they will have to follow an omni-channel approach, ensuring that the ‘Customer Experience’ of clients is reinforced through both offline and online channels.

* Countries represented include Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.



Four ways digitalisation is transforming car brands and dealers

16 April 2019

From changing expectations from the customer to new stakeholders entering the industry, the digital transformation of global automotive industry means it is facing the wholesale transformation of its business model. In a new white paper, global consulting partnership Cordence Worldwide has highlighted four major digital trends that are transforming the relationships between car brands and dealers with consumers.

With digital transformation drives booming across the industrial spectrum, automotive groups are no different in having commenced large digital transformation programmes to improve productivity, efficiency, and ultimately profitability. Falling sales figures mean the automotive sector is facing an increasingly difficult road ahead, something which means companies in the market are even more hard pressed to find new ways to improve their bottom lines.

While it offers major opportunities, the industry’s move to digitalise is not without complications. It has triggered a series of major internal changes, which have presented automotive entities with the challenge of becoming a “customer-oriented” industry. A new report from Cordence Worldwide – a global management consulting partnership present in more than 20 countries – has explored how automotive companies are navigating the rapidly changing nature of digital business.

New business models

The level of change likely to be wrought on the automotive industry by digitalisation is hard to overstate. Automation could well lead to significant reductions in the number of accidents, higher vehicle utilisation and lower pollution levels, while leading to a $2.1 trillion change in traditional revenues, with up to $4.3 trillion in new revenue openings arising by 2030.

As a result of this colossal opportunity, it is easy to see why almost all automotive groups now have digital departments, with generally strong communication within the digital transformation and the customer approach. The changes to society which this may have are potentially distracting automotive firms from the change it is leading to in its own companies though, according to Cordence’s paper.

The automotive market is dead, long live the mobility market

Because of this, the sector’s business model is set to transform over the coming decades. With digitalisation speeding up the appearance of concepts such as car-sharing, a subscription package model will likely become more palatable. At the same time, car and ride-sharing models will cater to the sustainability criteria of millennials, who will rapidly become one of the automotive market’s leading consumer demographics in the coming years.

Antoine Glutron – a Managing Consultant with Cordence member Oresys, and the report’s author – said of the situation, “These ‘old school industries’ are now working on creating new opportunities, but in so-doing are facing challenges and threats: new jobs, new technologies, new ecosystem of partners, necessary reorganisation, different relationship with customers, and even new businesses. The customer approach topic is in fact a real challenge for car companies as it implies changing their business model and adjusting their mind-set to address the customer 4.0: from product-centric to customer-centric, from car manufacturer to service provider.”

Digital customer experience

In the hyper-competitive age of the internet, even top companies face an uphill challenge when it comes to holding onto customers through brand loyalty. Digital disruption has resulted in changes to consumer behaviour, which is forcing a range of marketing strategists to reconsider their old, possibly out-dated strategies. As modern customers wield an increasingly impressive array of digital tools and online databases, they and are now able to quickly and conveniently compare prices, check availability and read product reviews.

The automotive sector is no exception to this trend, according to the study. In order to adapt to the needs of the so-called ‘customer 4.0’, car companies will increasingly need to change their business model and move away from product-centric companies to customer-centric ones, from car manufacturers to service providers.

Glutron explained, “As an automotive company, you can no longer expect customer loyalty simply with good products; you must conquer and re-conquer a customer that “consumes” your service. The offer now has to be global, digital and personalised. Your offer has to be adapted to this customer’s needs at any given moment. A key issue related to data control is to build customer loyalty by creating a customer experience 'tailored' throughout the cycle of use of the 'car product': purchase, driving, maintenance and trade-in of the vehicle.”

One way in which the sector may be able to benefit from this desire for a tailored experience is via connectivity. Consumers are generally positive about new connective features for automobiles, and many are even willing to pay upfront for infotainment, emergency and maintenance services. Chinese consumers, where the connected car market is set to hit $216 billion, are already particularly interested in paying a little more for navigation and diagnostic features in their future new car. This can also enable automotive companies to exploit a rich vein of customer data, enabling them to rapidly tailor their offerings to consumer behaviour.

New automotive segments

Digital transformation has also brought with it the rise of completely new application areas. As mentioned earlier, the most well-known example is the autonomous or self-driving car, where the last steps forward were not taken by major automotive groups but by technology companies such as Tesla. While this may have given such firms the edge in the market briefly, a number of keystone automotive names will soon be set to take the plunge into the market themselves, leveraging their car manufacturing prowess and huge production capacities to their advantage.

Before companies rush to invest in this market, however, it is worth their while to remember that the readiness and uptake for such vehicles differs greatly geographically. For example, following a study published in 2018, 92% of Chinese would be ready to buy an autonomous car, compared with only around 35% of drivers in France, Germany and US. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of different nations will also be significantly less accommodating of the new technology.

Use digital for steering thr activity

Elsewhere, Cordence’s analysis has suggested that hooking the cars of tomorrow into the Internet of Things is also likely to see a rapid change in the business model for car maintenance, providing real-time diagnostics for problems. This presents chances for partnerships to improve the connectivity of cars, especially with tech companies; for example, PSA partnered with IBM for a global agreement on services in their vehicle. Meanwhile, data could also be sold to other parties with an interest in this data, such as the government, which could use it to manage traffic levels, or ensure that only adequately maintained vehicles take to the road.

Glutron added, “With the increase in the amount of client data and connected opportunities, the recommendation is to set up data-centric approaches. The value is now in the customer data. The general prerequisites are to rework the data model and the Enterprise Architecture and generally build up a data lake including data from all sources (internal and external, structured and unstructured).”

From automotive to mobility

Relating further to the idea of connectivity, the report claimed that automotive firms must now adjust their models in line with the provision of end-to-end mobility, rather than treating the sale of a car as an end point in their relationship with the customer. In order to realise this transformation, transformations are likely to become more and more important.

A network of partner companies means automotive firms can provide a global mobility experience. As the vehicle is increasingly connected to its environment, new partners can also be cities, governments, and other service providers within the global mobility services industry in which the car brands want to take part.

According to the study, the target is clear. Companies must look to a holistic transport service, offering to move customers from A to B in a unique and pleasant way – otherwise they might as well take public transport. At the same time, they should extend the services reachable “on-board” (especially the enhancement of the connectivity between the car and smartphones or other connected devices), and reach high standards in terms of user experience (online sales, online payment, customised experience during and after the use of the car).

Concluding the report, Glutron stated, “These mobility market transformations could be considered a threat for the car manufacturers. Quite the opposite: if they take up the challenge and review their business model so that they become the service provider – communicating no longer to a driver but to a ‘mobility customer’ – they can then take advantage of their expertise and their position as a historical player. The most convenient means of transport are cars, and building a car is highly-skilled work.”