M&M's Veejay Nakra: ‘Once you get the taste of convenience, it is difficult to go back’

by Shahkar Abidi 27 Jun 2020

Mahindra & Mahindra launched its digital sales platform, ‘Own-Online’, an end-to-end, online vehicle ownership solution last month. The digital platform acts as a one-stop shop where customers can finance, insure, exchange, accessorise and own a Mahindra vehicle in 4 simple steps 24x7 from the comfort of their homes.

Mahindra’s all-India network of over 270 dealers and more than 900 touchpoints are integrated with the Own-Online platform through robust back-end technology and process cohesion. This enables a seamless and personalised end-to-end customer experience, offering convenience of online purchasing and comfort of local assistance.

Veejay Nakra, CEO -Automotive division, Mahindra & Mahindra says that  automobile customers are unlikely to go back to earlier ways of purchases now,  “Once you get the taste of convenience, it is difficult to go back. In this new era of digital experience where you not only browse and surf but also exchange vehicles, arrange finances and the dealer comes home to complete documentation, why would anyone say no?”

He was speaking as a panelist during a virtual conference organised by Autocar Professional. The other panelists included 

  • Tarun Garg, Director- Sales & Marketing, Hyundai Motor India
  • Vivek Srivatsa, Head of marketing (passenger cars), Tata Motors
  • Dominic Kurtaz, CEO, 3DEXCITE-Dassault Systemes
  • Ashish Kale, President, FADA were the other speakers at the event

The virtual conference was moderated by Hormazd Sorabjee, Editor, Autocar India.  The panelists shared their thoughts on the topic ‘Future of Automotive Retail’.

Commenting on the acceleration towards digitalisation caused by emergence of Covid19, Nakra remarked that “re-inventing and re-imagining” is the buzzword in the automotive world today. “If you see the situation in the past five years, Covid-19 has been the inflection point to push OEMs to leverage digital as a way to enhance consumer experiences,” said Nakra, who has been associated with M&M for close to 26 years now.

According to Nakra, Covid-19 has brought fundamental shifts in the consumer habits. “Safety and convenience are now the two most important pillars” in the customer’s mind, according to him, while making purchase decisions. The development seems significant considering the fact that  footfalls at  the showrooms have significantly lessened since the lockdown across the country to contain the spread of Covid-19. Though showrooms have begun opening since May , a significant percentage of  customers largely preferred making  purchases digitally due to the fear of getting infected. 

“The role of digital in marketing is the most important aspect to focus on. Using all different types of digital analytic tools available, you can get a lot of information about consumer preferences and insights” added Nakra.

Nakra emphasised that though digitalization will become prevalent in metros and large cities, smaller towns will see the concept of digital and physical stores surviving side by side. When asked to comment whether vehicle purchase can get totally digital, Nakra signed off saying, “I think we are still 4-5 years away from a situation where the car buying process is completely digital. It’s more of a crystal ball gazing game at the moment”.

Automotive retail: The digitally augmented physical experience

3DEXCITE’s Dominic Kurtaz: ‘The car is no longer a mode of transportation, it is a connected product’

Hyundai Motor India’s Tarun Garg: ‘We have to be empathetic with the customer’

Tata Motor's Vivek Srivatsa: ‘Thanks to digital space, OEMs can go anywhere in the country’

FADA's Ashish Kale: ‘Dealers are a resilient lot and we will adapt to new methods of selling’