The outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus induced COVID-19 contagion has plunged global economies into recession. Sales across sectors have nosedived, and auto sector has taken one of the nastiest hits. Some of the biggest economies of the world have been locked down, restricting movement of their citizens in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly virus. The world will not be the same post this catastrophe and auto makers will most definitely have to change the manner in which they operate. Until now, e-commerce wasn’t associated very strongly with the auto segment, especially the new car sales, although automakers are now seeing the opportunities that e-commerce provides in a different light. So how will the COVID-19 outbreak transform auto retail? Jatin Ahuja, the founder and MD of BIGBOYTOYZ, a company dealing in 24 auto brands, including Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini and as many as 150 models, clocking a turnover of around Rs 250 crore – shares his thoughts on the subject.
Over the years, with more and more consumers increasing purchasing power and accepting their zest to shop luxury items, the entire industry has witnessed a mammoth change. Aspirational buyers have turned into regular consumers thus ensuring an increase in the consumer base for globally. However, with the current situation and lockdown being witnessed PAN India and globally, few sectors of the luxury segment that were yet to venture into the e-commerce segment, have seen their peers see an increase in sales. This has been true in the initial COVID 19 announcement day as during times of distress people do resort to shopping as a therapy and as a way of staying positive.
However, with PAN India lockdown even though e-commerce segment have witnessed an upsurge in their sales the luxury market is witnessing a little set back as consumers are prioritising necessary goods as per government guidelines. Globally some of the companies are going ahead and even creating jobs for their countrymen, to work as delivery guys in the time of COVID-19.
It is true that apart from the essential/ necessary goods platform, the e-commerce for other goods/ luxury products are currently facing a situation that is not so favourable due to lockdown that is being witnessed PAN India. However, once this is over, and when situation normalises, e-commerce will still play an important role in reaching out to consumers who would be skeptical in immediately physically visiting malls and showrooms/ markets. The percentage of such skeptical consumers will be quite large as the consumers of today’s age are very well versed and are well equipped with the norms of safety and precaution. The e-commerce segment of luxury goods will also find that they have developed consumer bases who are finally embracing the concept of luxury shopping even during normal times. It is very similar to tasting the sweet nectar of enjoying authentic luxury goods in order to understand how even shopping online for luxury goods can be fulfilling.
This realisation itself will drive a lot of companies to finally take the leap of faith and venture into the e-commerce industry post the COVID -19 months. Many of the companies thought that physical stores/ showrooms are the only future for business sustenance and the global boom of e-commerce platform will not last much longer. However, with the outbreak of COVID – 19 and the relentless support of the e-commerce sector, both companies/businesses and consumers have understood that e-commerce sector will flourish manifold along with physical stores and showrooms.
Apart from this, even the players in the auto industry will also understand the importance of digitalisation. The luxury auto market will also witness a major shift in the consumer attitude wherein they will be more open to the concept of purchasing luxury vehicles online. However, currently the entire luxury industry as a whole is witnessing a standstill due to the state and nationwide lockdown.
This has led the companies to understanding the importance of virtual consumer experiential marketing. Thus, with virtual consumer experiential marketing becoming an important aspect for companies, e-commerce linked with Social Media cites like Instagram will also help in tapping into consumers who are way more active in SM handles than on any other platforms.
Influx of social media marketing has led to a digital revolution where almost every industry is fighting to gain attention from its targeted audience. From apparel to electronics, from telecom to travel, and from food & beverages to entertainment, every industry is finding out ways to tap this niche market which is not only huge but also effectively priced. So, its obvious for the automobile industry to enter the world of social media to be able to connect with the digitally awakened generation.
Before the advent of social media, vehicle dealers have depended on costly and ostentatious TV advertisements to help in gaining popularity for their brands. However, now with digitalisation, social media is basic in the effective advertising in the automobile industry. What’s more, it additionally deciphers that better the vehicle brand does its social media advertising, the higher its odds are of beating the competition. Any car dealer or manufacturer who isn’t using this platform into their business is doing noteworthy harm to their business’ targets.
With advanced showcasing strategies readily available, car dealers and manufacturers will have better chances to win their prospects’ attention. However, while talking about the auto industry it is important to understand that vehicles are high-contribution and high-speculation items, so one must give various touch points to their customers. Thus looking at all sectors, it would be rightly said that post COVID -19, the industry as a whole will witness an increase in sales of luxury goods via the ecommerce segment as well, thus making both luxury and digital platforms to function as feel good items and authentic platform of purchase respectively.