BMW UK has launched a unique end-to-end online service, where customers can select, finance and purchase their car online. With just a few clicks, prospective BMW owners can build their perfect car, arrange a test drive if necessary, agree financing options, payment method, and get a trade-in value for their own car before finalising the delivery date – all online, 24/7.
Dr Ian Robertson, member of the BMW AG board of management responsible for Sales and Marketing BMW and Sales Channels BMW Group, said: “We are the first car manufacturer to offer a digital sales solution for the entire product range and the full end-to-end buying or leasing process online. Now, UK customers can do everything from the comfort of home. The integration of the BMW Genius via live chat and retailer messaging functions, where the customer is able to get personalised support in real time, makes this system unique and a new benchmark for the automotive industry.”
The aim of BMW Retail Online is to offer the dealer more channels and opportunities to get in touch with potential customers and to adapt successfully to changing purchasing behaviour and technology awareness. Though the buying process can be done entirely online, the dealer remains at the heart of the process and in control of the sale. Furthermore, many customers appreciate the availability of personal, human advice at various points along the way. Multi-channel chat options (webchat, phone or email) mirror the in-showroom BMW Genius experience and are offered from 8am to 10pm.
Before being rolled out nationally, BMW Retail Online was trialled with nine UK retailers and proved such a success that 95% of BMW UK retailers have decided to offer this service to their customers. It can be found at www.bmw.co.uk.
Nigel Hurley, Sytner Group BMW Divisional Managing Director, whose retail outlet took part in the trial, said: “This is great news for retailers. It forms part of our ever more customer-centric focus and makes life easier for the customer. We see this becoming an increasingly important channel in the future.”
The online journey starts with the optional tool “Find your BMW”, where four simple questions help customers find their ideal model. This leads into the vehicle configurator on bmw.co.uk, offering customers a comprehensive but simple way to build the vehicle they want. With a click on the “Buy your BMW” button the customer selects a retailer, is offered the option of an existing car with a faster delivery date, before selecting their preferred finance method. The customer can then finalise the purchase with their chosen retailer in the Retailer Online showroom.
News of this announcement coincides with general purchasing trends for all types of goods increasingly moving to the web. Online global commerce is expected to reach US$ 2.5 trillion by 2020. This trend is reflected in the car industry, with 97 per cent of buyers researching their car purchase online and customers now visiting a retailer on average just 1.4 times before completing their purchase. This compares to an average of four visits per purchase in 1998. Industry research also indicates that nearly half of all buyers would consider buying online.