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CHANGES in the relationship between online and showroom motor retailer sales are being accelerated by recurring lockdowns.

iVendi said that dealers are increasingly adopting infrastructure designed to enable them to switch between the two spheres as easily as possible.

Chief Executive James Tew said: “Each successive lockdown means that dealers get better at online sales because that is the only channel available to them. This is a fact that is altering the underlying emphasis of their business strategies.

“There is already talk that the new lockdown could last until March. That potentially means an entire quarter of the new year when digital-click-and-collect will be the only option. Dealers have to maximise these opportunities to be viable.

“This process of maximisation means creating increasingly sophisticated online channels but is accompanied by a recognition that digital sales do not exist in a silo. They need to be directly connected to the showroom, so that when we do return to some kind of normality, both channels are potentially equally productive.

“This creates an obvious departure from the past. It means that increasingly, there is absolute flexibility between using online and showroom sales, supported by technology that makes such a relationship possible. We’ve been terming this ‘connected retailing’ and it’s a description that is starting to catch on.”

Tew said the boost lockdowns provided to online sales could be seen from the fact that, during the first 10 days of November’s previous lockdown in England, iVendi had tracked a 33% increase in use of its new Digital Deal propositions during the first few days compared to October.

“One of the big trends we have seen, as dealers have reacted to the coronavirus crisis, is the way in which they are using the online tools available to them in a much more proactive manner, as these new figures illustrate.

“Because of the imposition of lockdowns, retailers have become increasingly adept at changing the emphasis between showroom and digital activity, and the increase in Digital Deals that were sent during November shows how quickly they are now capable of moving from one to the other. We’re expecting an even larger shift this time around.

“However, what is perhaps the most interesting aspect of our previous lockdown statistics is not the 33% increase in deals being sent by dealers but the 24% rise in those being opened by customers. This shows how this proactive approach to digital is providing a valuable new sales channel during difficult trading conditions.”

Digital Deals were introduced by iVendi in TRANSACT, a product that the company introduced last April.

Tew said: “Digital Deals allow a proposition to be created by a sales person including finance and value added products, and then sent to the potential buyer as the basis for an online negotiation designed to replicate the subtleties of an in-person dialogue.

“Vehicles totalling more than £77m  on finance have been sold using Digital Deals during the last nine months. We now have dealers who send them to every potential customer with whom they have contact because of the success they are seeing.”

The technology behind Digital Deals placed the dealer in control of all key parameters of the negotiation, James added, from finance offers to value-added products.

“The value of this approach during the renewed lockdown, which is a much more proactive approach to digital than the traditional method of providing an online shopping journey for buyers, cannot be understated. It makes absolute sense when used as part of a click-and-collect model.

“However, it is also important that once the lockdown is over, the same technological foundation that has proven itself invaluable digitally is equally effective in the showroom. It is not a question of driving more sales online but of providing a long term connected retailing solution.”

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