Speaking with journalists at a media event in Sydney recently, Skoda board member for sales and marketing Alain Favey said at the moment, only five to 10 per cent of people want a full online purchasing experience, but added that Volkswagen Group was currently working on a solution.
“We do believe that in the future, even today, some people want to buy their car completely online,” he said. “So we are working on solutions for this. We think we will have a complete solution allowing the customer to do the whole thing.
“The group is working on solutions like this for the world actually … creating one digital platform for the whole group where all this information will be gathered.”
However, Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said it will assess the needs and desires of its customers before committing to online sales Down Under, but added that many buyers were not ready for it.
“What we do know is that, like other brands, the customer is spending much more time in the digital world to inform themselves about the car,” he said. “We are putting a lot of our emphasis in this space. It is where you can create a customer benefit.
“We believe at the moment that customers are not ready for this for emotional reasons. This is one of the most important purchases of their lives, they don’t want to buy this online.
“But, if we feel the customers are getting ready, we have the benefit of a large group behind us with the resources to help us with solutions for that. When the market is ready, so will we be.”
Mr Irmer said Skoda Australia has already had some success in engaging with prospective buyers online.
“Very early in 2014, we introduced the car configurator. When it started we had 2000-3000 configurations a month. A customer going in and configuring a car from a seven-step process from start to end.
“At the moment, we have an all-time record of over 20,000 complete configurations every single month.”
Skoda Australia also has a stock locator on its website that allows users to find specific Skoda models that are already in the country.
It identifies the full specification, price and location by dealer and appeals to people who want to buy a car immediately rather than configuring one and waiting for it to arrive from Europe.
By Tim Nicholson