Are Future Car Sales Going to be Digital? Suzuki Thinks So.

Over in India at Maruti Suzuki, they have announced that the digital car sales platform chalked up 200,000 sales (two lakh, as it is called there) since April 2019. Maruti Suzuki is India’s largest and most successful carmaker in the country and they are looking at increasing their online presence further to take advantage of this.

The company sees their share of the virtual sales space increasing in the future and has experienced a five-fold increase in their digital sales with it standing at about 20% now. The COVID effect is at least in part responsible for some of the growth, with a 33% surge since the Wuhan Flu hit the country five months ago.

The company claims that a solid technology platform with a squeaky-clean back-end performance driven by a hyperlocal marketing approach has enabled it to reach the masses whilst ensuring a totally personalised experience, which is of course quite a lot of spin. Apparently and according to Shashank Srivastava, Director of Marketing and Sales, “Customers first research online and then buy at the physical dealerships. While online experience provides the complete spectrum of information to the customers, at the last mile the customers seek assurance of the deal from their trusted dealer advisors,” which does of course sound a little like what everyone else is doing when they spec the car on a website and then complete the sale in a local dealership.

Google claims that 95% of all new car sales in India are digitally influenced and that a strong online presence is crucial to your success, but then they are selling advertising, right? It really sounds to me that a high-value decision like this is still made at the actual dealership and what is primarily happening is that consumers are really mostly price-comparing and playing with finance options online.

For now, all of the Maruti Suzuki sales are actually at dealership level and the company has ‘recruited’ over 1,000 of them to satisfy the online demand. It is here where the customer interacts with a salesman (virtually), scheduling a test drive or discussing specification or financing options. So, for now, this is really only a hybrid of a traditional model…but who knows where it may end up.

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