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May 18, 2021
Through its proprietary Trend Sonar trend monitoring platform, Reply recently conducted a
study to examine how the e-commerce model has evolved over time – particularly in the automotive domain – revolutionising the sector and consequently influencing customer expectations.
A digital approach and a strong online presence have become indispensable in the automotive sector, especially since last year when the global pandemic placed the digital realm in a preferential lane, rewarding businesses that have been able to change their business model quickly in favour of digitisation.
Over the past year (more specifically from April 2020 to March 2021), analysing the frequency of mentions of millions of online sources – expert media articles, mass media, patents and scientific publications – Reply’s Trend Sonar monitoring platform has, indeed, confirmed a 61% growth in content related to automotive e-commerce compared to the previous 12 months.
An evolution that starts from afar. The automotive sector is not new to change: in the last 20 years it has been the protagonist of an unprecedented revolution. Reply’s analysis, in fact, shows that all the conditions and prerequisites are in place for the sector to find itself on the threshold of a new discontinuity. The first online marketplaces for used cars date back to 2000, while a few years later the first online broker platforms began gaining popularity, directly connecting authorised dealers and end consumers and offering online booking, car configuration and digital brochure services. This was followed by the first online dealerships and, in recent years, car manufacturers have started selling their vehicles directly to the end consumer, adopting Direct to Consumer models.
Today's scenario: between the physical and the digital worlds. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the pace of digitalisation has greatly accelerated: digitised analytics systems, pricing tools and financing processes are now a necessary standard to help increase leads in the sector. Reply’s study highlights precisely how, at this point in time, we find ourselves at a crossroads between the offer of digital and traditional services. Indeed, in the near future, services such as 3D showrooms, virtual test drives, advanced configuration tools and digital concierge services are expected to see increasing use, allowing consumers to test and configure products directly online.
By opting for direct online sales to customers, native digital car manufacturers are turning the traditional car buying model upside down. The customer journey has also been impacted by the current revolution underway: leasing, financing, choice of insurance providers and coverage or even vehicle registration have recently digitised and automated the customer experience, shortening waiting times and eliminating paper documents.
The future of mobility is increasingly more virtual. Since car sharing services have entered the market, mobility has, in fact, begun to be perceived as a
service built around the digital world. Many car manufacturers and industry suppliers are adopting an approach in which the car is becoming a
platform capable of providing access to a broad digital ecosystem of app-based data and services. In fact, in the future, in addition to a means of mobility and transport, cars are expected to be increasingly used as a tool to collect data on customers. Access, exchange and sharing of this information will be decisive for defining future dynamics and for offering the customer a range of more complete and personalised services, which may even include solutions proposed by customers themselves.
More information on the research is available on Reply’s website at “E-commerce trends: mobility and car sales”.