COVID-19 Automotive eCommerce Impact Report

6 July 2020
COVID-19 Automotive eCommerce Impact Report

The landscape has changed forever within automotive and SilverBullet is at the frontline of this advancement.

With UK wide lockdown having only just allowed all dealers across the country to open their doors to the public again, we've been looking at some of the raw data generated and some of the sentiment that's changed from the car-buying public.

  • SilverBullet now has over 42,000 cars listed for sale through dealerships that are using their platform
  • The average conversion rate for customers engaging with the platform has risen 25% from pre-COVID 19 levels; the result of more customers wanting to purchase their vehicle online
  • 30% of customers say they are now ready to purchase a vehicle online
  • Month on month growth of customer deposits taken through SilverBullet

Customer deposits taken through SilverBullet

For automotive retailers, it's important to make the customer journey as joined up as possible and so we work closely with partners from web agencies to valuation providers to make this a reality.

To help utilise expertise from across a wide selection of industries, and tap into decades of success in digital disruption, we've been speaking with Mike Callachan from MTC who has this to say about the current and future landscape for automotive retail:

"We believe that the future of automotive will be digitally led. Those who adopt digital now and get ahead with eCommerce will be those who rise in the future, leaving those who do not behind. This is the early stages of what we have seen in other industries over the last two decades where household names on the high street have fallen one-by-one due to the ever-increasing shift towards online shopping. Those who survived and thrived adopted eCommerce early, and now operate both "bricks and clicks" between their high street stores and online shop.
Many online market sectors are now well established, however, automotive remains one of the few which has a long way to go. SilverBullet has set out the roadmap to take its clients on that journey and ensure that these clients set the foundations for a strong business of the future with a healthy eCommerce revenue stream.
With recent events around the coronavirus outbreak, we are seeing an acceleration of the digital transformation of the automotive industry. What we had expected would take a couple of years, has happened in a couple of months and we are seeing unprecedented demand for our technology. During this period, our early SilverBullet clients have enjoyed a consistent level of sales even though their dealerships have been closed - this has been the primary source of used car sales for many of our clients.
The virus has left its mark on the industry, it is now clear to everyone that transacting online in automotive is both possible, and here to stay. Consumer behaviour is changing, as consumers, we live in an "on-demand" generation where consumers expect to be able to do more themselves from home at the touch of a button (or iPad). For many, dealing with a salesperson face to face is simply not an experience they are used to - for the Millenials transacting online is the default. For the older generations who have now had to live through a pandemic which poses a serious health risk to going to public places, the shift towards eCommerce has also been significant with independent research showing that this new online shopping behaviour is here to stay. This speed of change poses a real risk to automotive dealers who are not underway with their own eCommerce strategy.
The big numbers show us that through independent research 30% of UK consumers are ready to buy a car online (pre coronavirus) with that number undoubtedly significantly higher now. All of this points towards a future where selling cars online will become the standard. Over the next year, we expect that car dealers big and small will move away from purely traditional sales channels to a blended model with online sales making up part of their overall car sales. We fully expect that this will then continue to grow to the stage where eCommerce is a significant part of a dealer groups overall sales - with the SilverBullet StoreFront platform being the best performing "virtual" dealership within any dealer network using our technology.
There will also be the emergence of many "online-only" operators, who will use leaner business models to challenge the traditional car sales journey. Dealers will have to ensure that they make the most of their physical showrooms as part of a customer journey which will begin online and offer a seamless transition into the showroom experience. This is something SilverBullet is leading the way on with an array of new exciting developments soon to be revealed."

Confirming this statement, SilverBullet clients have reported great progress, even though these difficult last few months.

Michael Bell, CEO at Available Car, has been using SilverBullet for the last three months:

"We've been taking notice of other automotive retailers creating full e-commerce websites for a while now and we knew it was the right time for Available Car. Having integrated our site SilverBullet back in March we immediately saw interaction with the "Click & Collect" call to action. 

With some great work between the team here and the team at SilverBullet, we've achieved a conversion rate of 18% for those website visitors who begin the "Click & Collect" journey - a fantastic result!

We've also had great feedback from customers who have bought a car through the SilverBullet platform with them praising how quick and easy it was to make a purchase"

Without a doubt, this will play a big part in the future of our business and that of the sector as a whole."

While the SilverBullet team are thrilled at these results, there's no time to rest with a number of extensions to the system already in build to help join up the 'click to bricks' journey and help more customers buy a car the way THEY want to.


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