India Yamaha Motor, the domestic arm of the Japanese two-wheeler giant, today announced launch of its new online retail platform – Virtual Store.
Integrated as a new section on the company’s existing website in India, the Virtual Store aims to enhance the buying experience of its customers, according to the company. While an online presence in today’s hyper-digital age is a given, there has been a sudden thrust towards doorstep, contactless retail services after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic as people are increasingly prioritising health and taking precautions by staying indoors to avoid the risk of getting infected by the coronavirus.
The Virtual Store on the Yamaha website is equipped with user-friendly tools such as offering a 360-degree view of the products. The website also allows specification comparison among various Yamaha products on offer under the dedicated ‘Buyer’s Guide’ tab. Moreover, customers can also book their selected vehicle online for a booking amount of Rs 5,000 after choosing the nearest Yamaha showroom. However, the online booking functionality is currently available only on the company’s motorcycle range including the YZF R15, MT 15, FZ 25, FZS FI and FZ FI, and doesn’t extend to its scooter models.
The company says that customers can opt for doorstep delivery and Yamaha dealerships will lend their support in providing contactless delivery to customers, as well as rely on digital communication tools such as WhatsApp to fulfil all of customers’ documentation needs and respond to any queries.
While Yamaha will start the online sales module from Chennai, the company plans to integrate over 300 dealerships across the country by the end of this calendar year. It will also introduce the option of buying apparels and accessories online through the website itself.
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has marred automobile sales and impacted all vehicle segments, with two-wheeler sales in July 2020 culminating at 1,281,354 units (July 2019: 1,511,692 / -15%), there are still signs and expectations of a quick recovery from the two-wheeler segment as people move to adopt means of personal mobility over public transportation. As a result, any attempt to engage with the customer in a safe and contactless manner can reap benefits.
According to Motofumi Shitara, chairman, Yamaha Motor India Group of companies, “Digital is the future, and our new website with ‘Virtual Store’ is ready to offer an enhanced buying experience and personalised, one-to-one customer services to the two-wheeler customers in India. Yamaha’s philosophy to offer excitement that goes beyond the customer expectations will unfold a new chapter with the new Yamaha website as we accelerate the digital transformation of Yamaha’s retail operations through a safe, reliable and engaging online portal.”
“Bringing more innovation to the concept, in future our customers will also be able to purchase apparels and accessories on the same platform thus providing a ready solution with enhanced buying experience. Our existing after sales activities like extended warranty offers and roadside assistance will be an added advantage to the customers,” he added.
In a recent interview with Autocar Professional, Ravinder Singh, senior vice-president, Yamaha Motor India, said, “Our dealerships have already introduced several digital initiatives in order to smoothen the post-Covid-19 operational efficiency like enforcing digital job cards for servicing along with digital quotation and invoices. Online payment mode through mobile wallets or tap cards are also being accepted at select Yamaha dealerships.”
“I think a digital retail format can be successful in the two-wheeler segment as it fulfils the needs of the millennial generation which is well informed, understands technology and is digitally connected. Also, in the current circumstances, it can be the most effective medium to drive the leads and sales,” he added.
Pushing customer engagement
India Yamaha Motor’s sales in FY2020 closed at 579,227 units, thus, registering a 28 percent year-on-year (YoY) drop. Its wholesales during the first four months of FY2021 between April and July 2020 stood at 91,141 units, sharply increasing the decline to a YoY drop of 58.50 percent.
As a result, the company is taking measures to strengthen connect with its customers through innovative retail ideas such as the recently introduced ‘Blue Square’ showroom format. On March 9, the company unveiled its first Blue Square showroom in Chennai, based on its strategy of transforming its retail outlets to unique, concept-driven centres. As per the company, the concept constitutes Yamaha’s racing DNA of excitement, sport and style, and the new showrooms will aim to attract the younger buyers.
According to Ravinder Singh, senior vice-president, Yamaha Motor India, “‘Blue Square’ is a unique concept-driven showroom that institutes Yamaha’s racing DNA through visual and exhibitory outline of showroom design on the exterior porticos of the outlet. The blue-themed ambience inside the outlets, exciting display of motorcycles based upon racing DNA of Yamaha, along with accessories, apparels and genuine spare parts are meant to make customers realise the brand’s excitement, sporty and stylish personality. A line up of accessories and apparels are also the prime focus of the company for the Blue Square. Our sole objective is to provide our customers a premium experience when they enter our showroom and while they spend their time to buy premium Yamaha products and accessories.”
While the Blue Square outlet in Chennai is operated by Sri Motors under the franchise-owned, franchise-operated model, Yamaha plans to launch 100 such outlets across the country in 2020.
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