Contributing not cannibalising: how OEM online sales channels should fit into the omni-channel network


Publication Number: Management Briefing 146

Author: Pascal Haubenreisser

Date: January 09, 2018

Tags: Dealers, Channel strategy, Customer insight

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Consideration of how the process of selling cars is changing and will continue to change in the future is at the core of ICDP’s research, and an area we have been tracking from different angles.  For this research, we looked at current OEM online sales channels for new cars, concentrating on those with at least some final transactional capability (so which allow customers to place a firm order or actually to complete their car purchase), and excluding those that are solely focused on linking customers to dealers, or on used cars.  Reflecting customers’ increased usage of online channels, offering transactional capability is the logical next step for many OEMs in developing their existing online channels, particularly as they have the resources and capabilities to manage online transactions in a way that especially their smaller dealers might not.  This possibility has been recognised by many OEMs in recent times, at the same time as they have seen the growing moves by brokers and new entrant third party platforms to get more involved in the customer’s online buying journey, in some cases to the point of offering online sales facilities themselves.  The risk of losing control of, or influence over, some of the online touchpoints in the customer’s online new car buying journey, plus the recognition that a growing proportion of customers are now keen to complete the full sales transaction for their new car online, have together driven a number of brands to develop online channels which offer either partial or full transactional capability.  As in other industries, the end-goal is the integration of these online channels within the overall channel mix, allowing customers to switch seamlessly backwards and forwards across different channels and formats as part of their buying journey.

In this research, we interviewed a number of OEMs and online channel specialists across the EU-5 markets to gain more insights around the challenges of implementation, and combined this with desk research into current examples to assess the role of online transactional channels within the overall customer buying journey.

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