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Fuel for Thought: Incorporating Consumer Expectations in the post-COVID-19 Retail Experience

20 October 2020 Melanie Erff Mike Wall Tanja Linken

Automotive Monthly Newsletter and Podcast
This month's theme: Incorporating Consumer Expectations in the post-COVID-19 Retail Experience


As the pandemic took hold and brought the automotive industry to a crawl, we surveyed dealers globally to understand the challenges they were facing, the adaptations they were making real-time to their business models and their expectations as the pandemic subsides. 80% of the dealers surveyed adapted their business with creative delivery ideas, increasing pickup and drop-off services, staggering customer service times and implementing new dealership processes to adhere to strict social distancing. Looking past the immediate impact to their business, to a post-COVID-19 environment, 65% of dealers expect accelerated development of online vehicle sales and booking platforms — allowing more or all the vehicle purchase process to be conducted online.

In addition to understanding the challenges faced by the dealerships, we wanted to comprehend how the pandemic impacted customers who purchased a vehicle and conduced the 2020 Vehicle Buyer Journey. We surveyed customers across seven countries who purchased new and used vehicles from a dealership during their respective quarantine periods — dimensioning the purchase process whether they were able to conduct their transaction online, partially online, or at the dealership. Capturing customer preferences, areas to focus on process improvements and expectations on their future transactions. Like the dealers, customers are expecting changes to the purchase process for their next vehicle, 62% agree or strongly agree expect simplified processes at the dealership while the 46% tha agree or strongly agree expect to be able to complete their entire transaction online.

As the customers move toward an omnichannel journey, manufacturers and dealers will need to evaluate modern retail formats. Online retail will pose a challenge in certain established markets, such as the United States, where franchise laws vary by state and may currently prohibit online transactions. More contemporary markets, such as China, have developed their retail models to allow for a traditional tactile experience with temporary showrooms and service drop-off stations. Customers and dealers' expectations are aligned — online retail, while expedited by the pandemic — is here to stay and adaptation of the retail network is imminent.

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Posted 20 October 2020 by Melanie Erff, Associate Director, Automotive Advisory Services and

Mike Wall, Executive Director, Automotive Analysis, S&P Global Mobility and

Tanja Linken, Executive Director - Automotive Dealer Network Development, IHS Markit


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