With the global motor industry changing more rapidly than perhaps any other, especially with the situation in the United States with manufacturing giants Chrysler and General Motors in bankruptcy, is it time to look at other ways in which cars may be sold in the future? As we know with the detailed information buyers can now find on the internet about almost any product, but particularly car sales, consumers are becoming more empowered to make a choice before they even need to make contact with a dealer, with the test drive the only thing requiring an actual human interaction.
Potential customers can compare different makes and models, build their own car on line and make comparisons on a national basis with price, mileage, condition and colours. There is no shortage of websites offering reviews, advice and a selection of finance packages on any given car whether it be business or private. In fact for the more experienced buyer – with the all round build quality of modern cars not to mention the advanced warranty’s and back up service – is the franchised showroom as relevant as it was just five years ago? We would hazard a guess that if you could give the average British car buyer a viable alternative to having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with a “car salesman” then they would take it!
Judging by the amount of closures we are seeing, the fact that the market has been overheated and carmakers have been building far more cars than are needed for too long, will this mean that buying cars from alternative sources becomes the rule rather than the exception?
Over the past few years it has often been heard that major supermarkets and other retailers have looked at the concept of selling cars, but have clearly met with reluctance from manufacturers not wishing to compromise the partnerships with their dealers. However, with competition set to increase along with “open points” (i.e. areas where a particular brand may not have representation) it may be that the volume mentality of high street retailers may provide the key to future new car sales.
The overheads would certainly be significantly reduced – and car makers not having to pay dealers big margins – it may be that the cheap prices and the potentially strong brand partnership turn out to be an irresistible proposition. For example could you imagine Ford retailing cars in conjunction with Tesco?
It would certainly be a powerful combination and likely to succeed as buyers increasingly become disillusioned with the after-sales service offered by some dealers at present. Would it be that buyers would gather information and compare models and makes online and then take their chances by buying cheaper from a supermarket so that at least they benefit at the front end if not afterwards?
There has been lots of talk about really cheap cars lately like the Nano and with many other car makers set to introduce similar cars what better way to reduce overhead by selling on the high street?
It may seem strange to see gleaming new cars for sale alongside your cornflakes but with supermarkets seemingly recession proof and manufactures needing to survive it may not be so fanciful after all.
One other thing…think of the clubcard points a new Ford Focus could bring you!
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