‘The retail revolution putting car dealers in jeopardy’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks dealerships could become places to 'try' rather than 'buy' as more and more car customers turn to online purchasing

As dealers threw open their doors to welcome a surprising number of eager customers back into showrooms, so the bosses of dealer groups and car companies accelerated their plans to offer end-to-end digital sales channels. That could see dealers becoming ‘try’ rather than ‘buy’ outlets, and customers – if they want – only interacting with retailers over the internet.

A few dealer and car company bosses have admitted that they had been “caught napping” when it comes to their digital offerings during lockdown. Not so the Managing Director of Ford, Andy Barratt.

However, when I caught up with him recently, he did reveal that Ford’s upcoming online sales channel – due to launch later this summer – could mean job losses in the retail business. “I think some dealers will say, ‘Do I need all these sales staff any more on the basis that I’m so digitally enabled in a way that I never was before?’,” he said.

Of course, not everybody wants to buy online, and I’ve had plenty of correspondence from people who much prefer real face-to-face contact (now at a social distance) at a dealer rather than doing a deal via a video link.

There is a growing concern, though, that your local dealer might not be very local soon. Put simply, many of the UK’s biggest dealers are in trouble, with the CEO of one of the UK’s most successful dealer groups telling me, “We’re all vulnerable.” The value of dealer businesses is at a real low right now.

That could play into the hands of Sergey Petrov. The name won’t ring any bells for you, but he set up Russia’s biggest car dealer group and is eyeing some of the ailing retailers in the UK.

Petrov has a reputation you might not expect for a Russian businessman; he’s widely liked by the global car makers he represents in Russia, and known for working in a very ‘western way.’ He might be about to make a big impact on the upcoming automotive retail revolution.

Do you agree with Steve? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

Recommended

2022 Geneva Motor Show cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
Geneva
Geneva Motor Show

2022 Geneva Motor Show cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

Geneva show cancelled for three years running but hope for 2023 return remains
7 Oct 2021
UK new car sales stagnate in September but 33,000 electric cars are sold
Tesla Model 3 - front
News

UK new car sales stagnate in September but 33,000 electric cars are sold

Electric cars increase their market share but semiconductor shortage means another gloomy month for the car industry
5 Oct 2021
UK car production down 27% in August amid ongoing chip shortage
Production line
News

UK car production down 27% in August amid ongoing chip shortage

Only 37,246 cars rolled off production lines in the UK in August 2021, but EVs and hybrids took a record market share
30 Sep 2021
Bank holiday traffic expected to return to pre-Covid levels
Traffic
News

Bank holiday traffic expected to return to pre-Covid levels

Congestion is expected over the August bank holiday, but drivers plan on staying closer to home
24 Aug 2021

Most Popular

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV
Range Rover leak - front
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV

Images of what could be the next Range Rover have appeared on social media ahead of next week’s reveal
21 Oct 2021
Best electric cars to buy 2021
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2021

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
19 Oct 2021
New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch
Michelin Uptis
News

New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch

The new airless Michelin Uptis is made from rubber and fibreglass and promises to be longer lasting, fuel-saving and recyclable
20 Oct 2021