Ford UK has announced that they will be selling vehicles directly over the internet from the 29th of June this year. This comes after research conducted by Ford stated that 40 percent of buyers in the UK aren’t even bothered about a test drive.
After purchase online, customers can drop by one of the 12 regional delivery centres to pick up their ordered goods. Before you ask, apparently haggling is still possible, even if the internet route is chosen as it is also supported by a call centre for the not-so tech savvy.
This will have a massively detrimental effect on the 550 dealership networks that would see sales drop by a certain amount. We should keep in mind that 40 percent is a hypothetical (internet-poll-like) figure and there are still a majority of customers who would rather purchase the car at a dealer enveloping the whole feel of the car with their senses along with that all important test-drive.
Like many things, this would be a hard sell in countries like Malaysia where purchases are governed by our hearts and not our minds. We could do all the research we want before we drop down to our local Ford dealer, but when you’re spending 100 times your monthly salary you want the whole car buying experience to be fulfilled.
Again this might be a good way to shift your car, in a country where there isn’t a big gap in salaries and car prices, but not here. Especially in a country where a car has traditionally been part of the family, very much like an extremely expensive pet. The figure of people wanting to buy a car online would be drastically lower in the ASEAN region, but there would still be a market centred around cheap everyday runabouts.
Most car companies in Malaysia barely pay any attention to online marketing and advertising, often choosing a print ad in a magazine with say a 3,000 print run over a hundred thousand impressions of online advertising, both often going at the same price. There only a few which are online savvy, such as Proton Edar for example – they even used to allow you to book your car online and there was even a feature called Proton Live where you could even ask questions and ‘haggle’ with an online sales advisor.
In the end Audi UK, who say they will never adopt this route, puts it nicely: “We would not do it because people like to sit in the cars and touch them. And the dealer is there to help with the decision-making process.”