The future of mobility: online car buying

Traditionally, buyers in India have had to choose from a handful of vehicles at the local dealership. Online car shopping can help consumers access a wide variety of models and budgets.
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The Indian used auto market is a $60 billion industry that has been slow to embrace e-commerce. Online retailing is driven primarily by internet proliferation in India with consistent year-on-year growth, however, the Indian used car market is yet to benefit from this.

Today, most people love the idea of getting products delivered to them and the pandemic has further accelerated this movement with "doorstep delivery" becoming a mantra for brands.

With the advancement of digitisation and increased internet penetration across the country, it is evident how the economy has been remodeled to operate and execute. The option to purchase products in an instant and return them in no time has enhanced the growth of the e-commerce sector significantly.

In this digital era, India has over 800 million internet users. Be it groceries or electronics, consumers now prefer to buy products from the comfort of their homes with ease – in a few clicks. Consumers have now embraced this digital transformation more than willingly and the idea of buying cars online is another step forward in this progressive age of ease and convenience.

While the industry, in parts, has been adapting to digitalisation, it is interesting to know that Millennials and Gen Z have an increased appetite for buying pre-owned cars and young buyers account for 80 percent of online transactions. Auto enthusiasts have also shifted towards buying pre-owned cars online owing to organised players now delivering quality used cars at better pricing. 

Today, India is considered as one of the markets with highest potential for the pre-owned cars segment as only 2 out of 100 people in India own a car. With more brands now investing in the used car industry, there has been a rapid shift in consumer purchase patterns with preference shifting from offline to online channels.

Observing this trend, brands are now working towards analysing and fulfilling the gaps of this largely unorganised sector to provide consumers with a rich, seamless, and interactive online buying experience.

A recent IPSOS study revealed that 40 percent of the respondents would prefer to buy their next car online. Customers love the idea of having tens of thousands of cars in their pocket without having to go from one dealership to another in search of what they want.

This is further being fuelled by the efforts of e-commerce players to save customers valuable time and money, allowing them to skip the dealership and shop from the comfort of home or on the go via their smartphones. Brands today, aim to offer an easy, transparent car buying experience to every customer across India.

Buying a car is a big decision as it is one of the most expensive investments to make. An individual planning to buy a car does a thorough check-in online and other relevant platforms, enabling them to make the best decision.

In buying online, the experience provided by a website or app is equally important in engaging with consumers and providing them with accurate information. 

Therefore, more and more full-stack players have been successful in driving the shift online by taking control of the entire process. Traditionally consumers were only able to choose between a handful of cars at the local dealerships, however today, an online shopping platform gives customers access to a wide assortment of high quality cars at the click of a button.

Access to this huge inventory of cars allows customers to refine their search based on specific aspects ranging from price and model to color and body style. Additionally, in order to ensure complete transparency, pre-owned car platforms today also provide options such as; no questions asked 7 days return policy, allowing consumers to test drive the vehicle and decide whether it fits their lifestyle.

Pre-owned car brands are now taking advantage of technology such as chatbots, video selling, picture search, face recognition payments, and image/voice search to make headway and deliver a seamless and hassle-free experience to consumers.

Customers today want more than just the ease of buying cars online; they also want high-quality cars which feel as good as new.

The Indian auto industry is at the cusp of an offline to online shift that will revolutionize this industry.

With the advantage of a better experience of easy-to-use online purchase free from middle-man and more affordable pricing, the pre-owned cars online industry will enable more people to afford a car.

The main motive is to increase affordability, transparency, and convenience. This shift in consumer behavior will significantly increase the number of car users in India that is presently the lowest in the world and stands at a mere 2 percent.

It is often said “It’s the journey that matters over the destination” and buying a car is a journey in itself. A journey, enhanced by innovative tech and a robust and intuitive platform to deliver the best-in-class experience to enable more and more Indians to afford their dream car online.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)