Kerala

Sales of four-wheelers to shift to the virtual mode

Illustration : Satheesh Vellinezhi

Illustration : Satheesh Vellinezhi  

Websites designed innovatively and digital showrooms could be the ‘new normal’

Faced with an unprecedented slump in demand for four-wheelers, automobile dealerships are shifting gear to contact-less, digital mode of marketing and exchange of information, which, they say, will be the ‘new normal’ post COVID-19. Although most of them reopened a week ago, they are encountering a steep fall in walk-ins at dealerships. But most are positive of the sales picking up.

“Customers are slowly adapting to the digital medium, for which we have readied an online platform. We deliver vehicles at their doorstep. A standard operating procedure (SOP) has been readied in order to enable test drives. Sales executive will be seated at the back, while the vehicle will be sanitised before and after the test drive,” says Eldo Benjamin, vice president, sales and marketing, Nippon Toyota.

First-time buyers

Mr. Benjamin foresees an increase in the number of first-time car buyers, be it for new cars or used ones, due to concerns of relying on public transport. Extension of the loan repayment moratorium period will help in this regard, he adds.

“Enquiries are on the rise six days since we reopened. Our sales team is being re-equipped so that the staff are at home in digital marketing,” says S. Krishnakumar, general manager (sales), Sai Service Private Limited, a Maruti Suzuki dealership. “We have readied e-brochures, e-quotations, and e-booking. Amenities at dealerships have been redone in keeping with the government’s norms on sanitising and social distancing,” he adds.

Azad Harry Pothen, who has dealerships of Hyundai, Mahindra, Honda, Ford, and MG, speaks of how innovatively-designed websites and virtual showrooms are taking over from the era when people used to visit dealerships multiple times. “The pandemic will redefine the way we work, with digital technology set to take over,” he says.

“It is a week since we shifted to the digital mode, the new normal for sale of new and used cars and accessories and seamless loan transactions,” says the CEO of a luxury car dealership in the city. For this, SOPs have been readied and sales personnel are being retrained in videoconferencing etiquette. Test drives will be limited to those who are serious about purchasing. “Schemes like the one in which a customer pays EMI for a three-year period and either return the vehicle to us or opt for upgrade will find new takers,” he adds.

Affordability

Biju B, general manager, sales, Popular Hyundai, speaks of how a temporary reduction in GST, which is now in the 28%-40% range, will see automobile sales pick up, since EMIs will become affordable.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 7:48:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sales-of-four-wheelers-to-shift-to-the-virtual-mode/article31598983.ece

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