A Holden pilot will allow Melbourne metro buyers to research, spec and buy cars online, removing the need to visit a showroom.
The company's research indicates 30 per cent of consumers would consider buying a car online.
“Ten years ago, we were tentatively buying clothes online and it was inconceivable to buy big ticket items like TVs through the internet, but as consumer tastes change and confidence in online commerce has grown, so too has Australian consumers desire to purchase at a time and location that is convenient to them," said Mark Bernhard, Holden chairman and managing director.
"It’s only a matter of time before the digital revolution reaches automotive retailing."
Subaru was first to the punch for online sales in Australia, selling the BRZ coupe through an online store. The process allowed buyers to arrange a trade-in and handled all contract details, before consumers selected their preferred dealer for delivery. The latest-generation Impreza is offered online as well.
Along with the sales stuff, the Holden online store is able to facilitate trade-in and finance for buyers, from both mobile and desktop devices. Buyers can feed information about their current car – build year, model, mileage and condition – into the website for a quote, before the dealer collects the car and completes the process when delivering the shiny, new Holden.
Buyers who click before thinking have a three-to-seven day cooling off period, depending on how they plan on paying.
According to Holden, dealers haven't been forgotten in this process. A group of dealer representatives were involved in the development process, and the company says after-sales and delivery service are still a crucial part of the online buying system. Given this is just a pilot at the moment, bricks-and-mortar retailers shouldn't be too worried... yet.
“A car can’t deliver or service itself. Our dealers are the backbone of our online store and have been involved in creating the online shopping experience since its inception. Their guidance on how to optimise the experience has been excellent," Bernhard said.
“Although the online car buying experience finishes at the click of a button, the car owning experience is a long-term relationship, that’s where the dealers step up, home delivering the car and providing exceptional customer care for the lifetime of the car.”
Should the Melbourne metro pilot work out, Holden says it has a second area ready to launch within around six months. It wouldn't, however, tell us what that area was.