Auto OEMs on digital sales push to build customer base for post-lockdown phase

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on April 07, 2020 Published on April 07, 2020

Maruti Suzuki is using its digital systems to build up enquiries

Indian passenger vehicle makers are trying to get more active on their digital channels to attract prospective buyers as part of their measures to handle sales in post-Covid-19 lockdown period.

As various State governments are discussing the possibilities of lifting lockdown depending on the prevailing conditions, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are also evaluating options to lure buyers for the post-lockdown period in addition to extending other support measures to dealers.

There could be weaker consumer sentiments amid lower income across various sections due to an overall challenging economic environment. Hence, there is a view that there could be a slump phase after the lifting of the lockdown.

Though OEMs have online sales platforms, they are now trying to be active on those digital channels to revive momentum. They are trying to reach the prospective buyers and are building enquiries and prospective customer base for the near term.

“When dealers restart their business, they also need some enquiries and customers in addition to other support. In this period, Maruti Suzuki is using its digital systems to build up enquiries. Interestingly, many enquiries are still coming for us even during this shutdown. So there is still a high level of interest among the people to buy cars and we are trying to help our dealers take advantage of these customers’ interests,” says Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

Kia Motors India says it has already set up an end-to-end online sales process that not only enables customers to book their cars online but also complete the loan and registration process at the convenience of their homes.

“In terms of prospective customers, the dealership and our CRM team are regularly in touch with them. During the lockdown period, we have made lakhs of calls to the buyers who have shown interest in our cars, assisting them in their buying process,” said a spokesperson of Kia Motors India.

Regular updates to clients

For the customers who are waiting for deliveries, Kia Motors has been providing them with regular updates in order to retain them. Since the start of the lockdown, the company has connected with over 25,000 people who have booked their cars, helping and assisting them in their purchasing process.

MG Motor India has completely digitised the process of bookings and delivery of MG cars. So prospective buyers can book their Hector and ZS EV online and get them delivered at their doorsteps.

Ford has announced that customers who have booked or plan to book a new Ford car until April 30 will get complete price protection at the time of delivery, a move that is likely to attract some prospective buyers for the near term.

“Given factory and showroom closures, it is essential that car makers draw up a strong online order book to ensure that, once factories and showrooms reopen, they can quickly rebound financially,” said Pedro Pacheco, senior research director at Gartner.

Although many consumers will be hesitant about purchasing a car in the present circumstances, OEMs and car dealerships still need to offer more flexibility. “They could consider a digital platform that offers a usage-based subscription model which enables the consumer to choose a car, with the freedom to exit the contract at very short notice,” he added.

Published on April 07, 2020

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