‘The future is retailer’, says Auto Trader COO

By automotive-mag.com 3 Min Read

Industry experts reflected on the role of the dealership at NFDA’s Driving Digital 2024 yesterday.

In 2019, management consulting firm Bain & Company published ‘A Survival Guide for Europe’s Car Dealers’ which predicted a decline in sales from traditional dealerships by 2025. In 2024, it has become clear that the role of the dealership is indispensable.

The ‘Survival Guide’ predicted a 37% reduction in forecourt led sales. Elsewhere Cox Automotive in 2021, as the market emerged from the pandemic, suggested 42% of new and used car sales would be online by 2026. KPMG suggested in 2018 that half of car dealerships would cease to exist and the role would be reduced to a hub for test drives or maintenance.

However, Auto Trader notes just 4% of sales are online and the role of the dealer has never been more important than it is today.

Catherine Faiers, Auto Trader COO, said: “At Auto Trader today we are working with more retailers than we have ever worked with and in working with those departments we see an industry that is entrepreneurial, vibrant, it’s changing and always changing but it is one that is adapting to those changes.”

With consumers looking to embark on an EV journey, and omnichannel retail coming into play, the role of the retailer in connecting consumers with the car they are looking for is important.

Consumers want direct support and are more likely to trust a retailer to get impartial advice. When buying from a dealership, the customer can expect support throughout the vehicle’s life.

New entrants also rely on a retail network to gain trust and awareness from consumers.

There are 58 brands in the UK, a 25% increase in the last five years, and over 100 makes and models of EVs, an increase of 50% in the last year.

Dale Wyatt, director at GB Suzuki, said: “Who do you trust to deliver on your promise? I trust the dealer. The reason I do is because I know that it’s the frontline that determines the bottomline.

“It’s the capability of the people on the ground, talking to customers, they are the most important thing, the most important differentiator.”

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