As the Indian automotive industry moves towards realigning and recovering the immense sales loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, digitalisation sounds like the biggest tool for automotive majors to regain lost ground
Hyundai India has been an avid first-mover when it comes to adopting digital platforms for customer services. Auto Tech Review spoke with Brijesh Gubbi Suresh, AVP & Group Head – New Business Strategy, Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL), to know more about its digital transformation strategy to support sales.
The COVID-19 crisis has added new words and phrases such as social distancing and contactless to everyday vocabulary, which means digital platforms have become the choicest means of transaction for most buyers. Hyundai has been actively publicising its digital platforms, which now have been expanded to become complete purchase and maintenance solutions than just serving as support tools. Automotive brands have the onus of empowering its customers and dealer partners towards digitisation as the industry moves towards the ‘new normal’.
Hyundai’s Click-to-Buy digital retail platform is not new and was initially launched in January 2020 with limited support across the Delhi-NCR region, which was subsequently expanded on a pan-India scale by March 2020. The platform was further expanded to an end-to-end car sales platform by June 2020 and has witnessed noticeable growth in booking numbers since then. A significant bump in digital visits is evident as Hyundai attracted 3,000 visitors in the month of March 2020, which increased to 400,000 visitors in April, and kept on rising at a rate of 15-20 % month-on-month. Hyundai currently has more than 15 lakh visitors on the platform, which is a positive sign about the adoption of this strategy since traditionally more than 95 % of sales could be attributed to physical dealer visits in the past.
And it is not just Tier I metropolitan cities where the shift is visible. A whopping 70-80 % digital shift comes from Tier II-III cities. It is evident that the convenience of digital and remote interactions between customers and dealerships is gaining traction not just due to the fact that it is difficult to visit showrooms right now, but also because customers are finding it more favourable means to purchase cars and have them delivered at their doorstep.
Purchasing a new car involves a lot of process parameters, which are all covered by the Click-to-Buy platform. This platform encompasses everything from basics like model, colours and variants options to organising door-step test drives of sanitised vehicles, to loan and finance solutions as required by customers, right up to delivering the new vehicle after purchase. The process in between has to be made completely transparent with accurate pricing and model details, and their availability between different dealerships. Customers may opt for video consultation with dealership personnel, whenever required, to gain any clarity on any parameter.
The results are on the brighter side with more than 20,000 bookings being made through digital means already. Around 70-80 % of sales can be attributed to Creta and Venue models, followed by Verna and Grand i10 and finally Santro. Clearly, the more tech-savvy buyers are not holding back in adopting digital retail services. Another critical element is customer data security, which is of paramount importance to the brand. Constant checks and layers of security are constantly strengthened to ensure user data is not used for any unintended purposes.
SALIENT DEALER PARTNERS
The seamless transition and enhancement of digital services are incomplete without properly savvy and equipped dealer partners, for any automotive OEM for that matter. Hyundai had already started preparing its dealer personnel for the age of digital purchasing right from the initial launch of the Click-to-Buy platform. Despite the initial scepticism, the response has been overwhelming as customers are realising how they get a wider range of exposure digitally as opposed to the traditional ways of publicity. Over 90 % of vehicle sales in India are digitally influenced, and owing to COVID-19 pandemic, more than 70 % of buyers would want to avoid visiting a dealership physically. Hence, dealerships have been prepared as more enquiries come through the digital medium, which is a quicker method for customer as well as relationship managers.
Video consultations between buyers and dealers will be encouraged as the general behaviour of customer changes. This also increases the efficiency of dealers as even in current times, when only 50 % of the workforce is actively available for legwork, all requests can be addressed with relative ease. Hyundai has also ensured there is pricing transparency within different dealerships that would instil more trust among buyers.
The success of retail digitisation rests with how seamless and streamlined the entire purchasing process is for the customer. And Hyundai has shown that cutting-edge application development combined with smart dealer partners can increase brand visibility exponentially, further benefitting sales. The Click-to-Buy platform has witnessed remarkable success and the brand will keep enhancing its interface for an even richer experience. According to Suresh, upcoming technologies like augmented reality and relevant video content is on the cards and will soon be released to make it a more powerful sales asset in Hyundai’s armour. With the festive season approaching, more vehicle sales are expected. And since the COVID-19 crisis continues, digital car sales are safer and more efficient way forward.
TEXT: Abhijeet Singh