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NISSAN in the United States has announced it will start online sales through its Nissan@Home program this quarter in line with what it sees as “a dramatic shift” in buying trends.

Nissan said COVID-19 was a turning point for online sales and its start to roll out Nissan@Home.

It calls the program a “complete online shopping” experience that will “allow people to buy a new vehicle without leaving their home.”

Nissan’s global COO Ashwani Gupta said in late July last year the company intended to launch a “complete end-to-end digital journey” that allowed consumers the online ability to research cars, organise home test drives and complete purchase plans.

Consumer behaviour has led Nissan – and other manufacturers – to expand online services. The resultant Nissan@Home is the brand’s first in-house integrated buying program.

The number of cars already sold via Nissan’s websites in China, Europe and North America combined accounted for 11 per cent of its overall sales in those markets in the first half of 2020. That compared with 4-5 per cent in the same period in 2019.

In China for the first nine months of 2020, 17 per cent of the 758,000 new Nissan vehicles sold in the country were bought online.

The Nissan@Home service will start in North America and China, its biggest markets where digital sales are more advanced than in other markets.

In the middle of last year, Nissan opened a dedicated website for its new Ariya electric sport-utility vehicle, due to be launched globally this year.

In the first four days of the Ariya site opening, 1.2 million people visited and Nissan used the responses to gain insight into customer preferences.

Nissan@Home will be available from participating US dealerships and is being touted as “a seamless online experience”.

It said that the service will allow consumers to book a test drive, follow through the purchase process and finance needs, organise delivery and continue the online relationship for future service and maintenance needs.

Nissan is not ignoring physical presence at dealerships by customers. It said they can choose to go to a Nissan dealership at any point in the buying process.

The online service is being promoted as one for customers who may want or need to avoid the trip to the dealership completely and use the online transaction.

Nissan@Home is the result of a pilot program which launched in June last year and involved seven dealerships in Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Texas and Virginia.

The company said the program was very successful and reported that two dealerships said that their “close rate nearly doubled with customers who used this online shopping solution.”

This led to Nissan@Home being offered to all US dealers.

Nissan North America vice-president of customer journey and data innovation Dan Mohnke said in a statement that it was an “important first for Nissan” and gives customers “what they’re asking for – the ability to purchase a vehicle on their terms”.

Nissan said some dealers will pick up the service in coming months while others may not be able to introduce it until the third quarter of the year.

Nissan Australia was asked if the program will be introduced in our market but the response was not available at time of publication.

By Neil Dowling

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