Consumers don't want to buy a car totally online, according to Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) UK managing director Rawdon Glover.
“Less than 10 percent of customers want a completely digital experience," he said. "Manufacturers that will win in this space will make the car-buying journey as easy as possible."
JLR is one of a number of car makers that has introduced online car sales to some extent over the past two years.
Other brands embracing digital sales include Hyundai, Dacia, Peugeot, BMW, Ford and Tesla.
Glover identified 24 stages of the car-buying process, 19 of which can be done digitally through JLR.
“We are investing heavily in our website, for example, our configurators, to allow customers to get much further digitally. But then all fulfilment will be through dealerships," he said.
"We are looking at how the physical and digital worlds can work together.”
He outlined the changing habits of car buying: “Customers want to do research at home. By the time they arrive at a retailer, they are so close to purchasing. The customer is much more informed.”
As a result, Glover doesn’t want interaction at a dealership to be “just transactional”. He added that he believes a dealer’s role is to build relationships and be part of the community. Such a move also ensures long-term business for retailers, as customers will be more likely to return for servicing and maintenance.
Jaguar first announced its online retail plans in 2016 when it launched a digital store in partnership with Rockar. It was the second brand to partner with Rockar, following the lead of Hyundai. The service offers customers the option of buying their car online accompanied by a dealership in a high-footfall location – in this case Westfield Stratford in London – where customers are greeted by “non-selling product experts” rather than commission-based salespeople.
Since then, Hyundai’s Rockar retail sites have been taken over by a more traditional dealer group as Hyundai launched its own click-to-buy platform, and it’s thought that JLR might go down the same route.
Also read: JLR sells 48,160 vehicles globally, down 8%