Digital salesmen: are dealer groups and manufacturers ready?

March 15, 2017

As the automotive market continues to develop its digital showrooms and the customer’s capability to complete the entire sales cycle online, Maru/edr’s industry expert, Luke Gould, asks the question: has the significance of the digital journey overtaken the need for showroom salesmen? 

Hyundai are attempting to change the game. In the early part of the year the South Korean car manufacturer launched a Click to Buy service with the intention of simplifying and digitalising  the path to purchase. Customers now have the opportunity to purchase vehicles online, without even visiting the showroom once – and within five minutes of visiting the site. With the new journey said to be simple, quick and still completely transparent, understanding the digital experience will majorly influence all players within the automotive industry.

The fixed price model allows for a user-friendly, no hassle approach – haggling will become a thing of the past! Still being able to trade in old cars, apply for finance and even have the car delivered to the door this could be a seismic shift. Websites allow consumers to save progress for up to 14 days which provides the flexibility the modern customer requires.

Is this the future for the automotive industry?

Online purchasing is seen as the next pioneering step after digital showrooms were a success. With the promise of further model availability and even great experience features, this could be a landmark moment.

With Amazon Prime proving a hit, this usage of similar methodology within other industries should provide longevity to the trend. The ability to continue you normal routine, whilst getting you goods delivered, allows for a time-saving, no hassle approach that all consumers dream off.

However, there is an underlying uncertainty within the industry that points out the huge disparity in price between your standard Amazon purchase and the money involved in buying a car. The concerns being raised question whether customers, despite outwardly championing a digital-only customer journey, might actually be more hesitant departing with such a large sum of money without seeking to speak to someone face-to-face at some point in the process.

The stats that paint a fuller picture

The initial months have shown that twenty-six cars have been ordered through this new method. Hyundai also report that site visits have hit around 92,000, but like with any new innovation to enter the market, there tends to be an initial “hype spike” that typically settles down as interest naturally wanes. Customers have shown interest in the ability to complete normal parts of the sales process as 43% of users are opting to trade in a previous vehicle via the online feature.  The figures are not bad for Hyundai considering we’re still less than three months in on this new launch, but are they resounding enough to threaten a move exclusively online that would spell the end of the car-lot and its salesmen?

Perhaps not, as, incredibly, 93% of customers have still chosen to collect the new vehicle from a local dealership. The value and security of the asset being purchased may be forcing people to still see it in the flesh before taking full ownership for it. It may be a long time before we see the back of the hard sell in the showroom.

Customers still want a positive digital experience

The stats suggest that customers will continue to choose a physical handover, but a winning digital experience is still a vital part of the journey.


In the industry, nearly 70% customers spend more time online than offline for pre purchase information gathering before purchasing offline. This requires companies to take an integrated marketing approach – like Hyundai have attempted with Click to Buy – that is based on customers’ channel behaviours. Monitoring and capturing this information is a key business need.