Automotive Blog

10 minutes, 5 clicks: SEAT’s new sales strategy for Norway



On the 5th of April this year, SEAT launched a new ‘Digital Commerce’ site in Norway. Prior to this, SEAT had no sales presence in Norway, working with Harald A. Moller to provide authorised service and repair facilities to SEAT vehicles imported from other markets.
The move represents the second step in SEAT’s digital sales strategy, following on from their omni-channel approach offered in the UK mixing an online website with two shopping mall outlets. 
The new service promises to let customers “close the deal in 10 minutes in just 5 clicks”. Given what we know about customers and convenience, advertising the service in such a way should appeal more directly to those are already interested in buying online.
Our own research shows that European customers are not against the idea of buying a new car online – just 19% said they wouldn’t consider doing so in the future, and 20% said they would ideally like to finalise the deal online. So, by taking the initiative and offering such a service directly, SEAT is playing into customer’s desires. OEMs are the preferred provider of online sales channels.
This online process is supported by a Brand Experience Centre in Oslo, and two Brand Experience “spots” in Bergen and Trondheim. These physical stores will act as support for the online process, and provide a way for customers to see the cars in the metal, although they won’t be handling test drives.
At the same time, a number of roving pop-up stores will be travelling around the country to act as intermediaries by showcasing the vehicles to interested customers and helping arrange test drives, a role which we have been strong advocates for. By avoiding the pitfalls of trying to make pop-up stores act as full-on sales points, SEAT can tap into customer expectations better, where this type of channel is seen as a way to collect information rather than transact.
The test drives themselves, an element that are important to some, but don’t necessarily have to be taken from a traditional dealership, will instead be handled in an interesting and new fashion. SEAT have teamed up with HYRE, a shared mobility platform, to implement a fleet of 40 vehicles across urban Norway that will act as both a car sharing scheme and as a way for interested customers to try before they buy. In parallel, test drives will be offered by SEAT through the AVIS car rental network. Doing this should naturally support the limited dealer network that SEAT has, and share the burden of costs and managing processes with partners.
To help support this move online, SEAT is doubling its service network from 10 points to 20, and offering customers a choice of 23 delivery spots across Norway.
However, despite all of this, one has to question the timing of this move, given the Norwegian government’s proposals to ensure 100% of new cars sold are electric by 2025, and many I have spoken to who are closely involved in the Norwegian market believe that 100% EV penetration may even happen by 2023. With, so far, the only EV announced in their line-up being an all-electric version of the Leon, slated for a 2020 release, there is the worry that more established players will close off the market, potentially making this move futile, and leaving SEAT high and dry.
Nevertheless, the innovative approach is certainly an interesting, and comparatively low-cost, take on entry into a new market, with few dealers, and costs shared by partnerships. Such an approach may act as a framework or case study for other brands to consider with new market entries, especially those coming from China.


Written by Gareth Arnould

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