Analysis shows online enquiries by potential buyers in July were 10-15% higher than in February, having dropped 30-35% during the lockdown.
Automakers such as Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor, Mahindra & Mahindra and Toyota Kirloskar are increasingly relying on digital platforms to drive sales, as consumers are preferring to reduce dealership visits amid worries over the pandemic.
End-to-end sales on these platforms, though, have not made much headway, as people are still uncomfortable in remotely finalising such high-value purchases, said carmakers.
But with digital consumption at an all-time high — people are spending two hours more online per week than the pre-Covid period, as per Google India data — consumers are also doing much more research on cars online.
“We are starting to see a rise in consumers’ desire for their own personal mode of transportation,” Nikhil Bansal, the head of industry (automotive) at Google India, said, adding: “Expectations are changing and now, more than ever, people want the ability to buy and engage with the brand from the comfort of their home.”
Four of every five people considering buying a car would use an online purchase option if it were available, shows a study by Google India. Moreover, nearly a third would buy a car sooner if they have an online option. Even before the pandemic, the number of visits to dealerships in India has been on a decline, falling to half between 2016 and 2019.
Shashank Srivastava, Maruti Suzuki’s executive director (marketing and sales), said, “Today, we see 21 out of 26 touchpoints of the consumer’s journey with the dealerships are digital ones.”
Web-based purchase enquiries have risen to 39% of the total the car market leader now gets, from 3% over the last three years. Hyundai Motor India director (sales and marketing) Tarun Garg said digital sources now contributed close to 30% to the sales enquiries it gets.
At Tata Motors, which has a platform called Click to Drive, “more than 30% of our overall leads are now coming from digital alone,” said Vivek Srivatsa, the head of marketing at its passenger vehicle business unit.
Toyota Kirloskar senior vicepresident (sales & service) Naveen Soni said post lockdown, 13% of enquiries it got were generated online. Mahindra has seen an upward trend in online search and bookings through its platform, chief executive (automotive division) Vijay Nakra said.