Hyundai is leading the charge into online car sales with an improved and comprehensive digital showroom experience that supports the traditional dealer network.
The Korean car maker, which sold 93,403 vehicles in 2017 and experienced its ninth year of consecutive growth in the UK (1.06 percent increase in a market that fell by 5.7 percent) has already experimented with online car shopping and brand stores, but is now promoting a more sustained and integrated approach that prepares its 165 UK dealers for the next era of car shopping.
According to a recent study conducted by Trustpilot and the Centre of Economics and Business, 20 percent of all new cars bought in the UK by 2027 will be purchased online rather than through physical dealerships. Car makers are responding: Peugeot, for example, allows customers to buy a car via its website, which includes structuring a finance package or even trading in your old vehicle.
Meanwhile Tesla, long recognised for challenging every aspect of the car buying and owning experience, cuts out dealers entirely by selling direct to customers. Hyundai’s future vision may embrace online sales, but it maintains that its dealerships will hold core responsibility for car sales.
Click to Buy has been the company’s toe in the water. Launched in 2016, it was an innovative-yet-limited online service that only presented a fraction of the Hyundai folio and as such, generated a nominal 100 direct sales in 2017. That said, the site also played a key role in significantly boosting brand awareness, monitoring buyer behaviour across the UK and helping customers gather essential research. 'Modern car buyers want immediacy,' confirmed Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai UK CEO. 'They want to know all about the car, how much it’ll cost, and where they can get one. And they want to gather all that information while sitting at home.'
Based on this insight, Click to Buy is expanding in April to enable every Hyundai model to be purchased online via any dealer. Hyundai’s dealers will have their own custom page within Click to Buy to promote their stock and finance offers and set the level of discount. Customers will then be able to compare the exact prices of cars between dealerships online instead of having to physically visit them. Though this feels like a Hyundai price comparison website, the company insists it isn’t.
Existing Hyundai customers will also be able to benefit from the dealer’s increased digital presence, by being able to book their next service appointment online. The network now receives 35 percent of all service and repair bookings outside of working hours, so this functionality brings the group up to speed.
More cool Hyundai brand stores are coming
Hyundai UK currently holds the lease on two so-called ‘brand stores’ in the Bluewater and Westfield Stratford shopping centres, both of which are now managed by local franchise dealer Motorline. Speaking to Motor1.com, Hyundai director Paul Wills said '95 percent of people buying cars from these outlets live less than 10 miles from a known local dealer, so it makes sense for a local franchise to maintain this relationship.'
Again, while the overall sales volumes through these flagship stores have been limited – Hyundai and initial store partner Rockar recorded just 3,000 direct sales over three years – the convenient location has built brand awareness, while the absence of pushy sales people has helped deliver a different Hyundai customer. The average car-buying age here dropped a staggering 22 years to 37, while 58 percent of new cars were bought by women. Wills is positive about the approach and in addition to revealing plans for a new flagship centre in West London 'it will be a centre of excellence that mimics the brand/dealership approach of Mercedes-Benz World', he hasn’t ruled out further brand stores across the country to support Click to Buy.