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Holden kicks off online car sales

Free shipping: Holden’s new online store will allow buyers to trade-in, purchase and take delivery of vehicles from the comfort of their homes.

New Commodore and Astra to spearhead Holden’s new online store trial

12 Feb 2018

HOLDEN has introduced a first-of-its-kind online store that will allow customers to buy new passenger cars, as well as trade-in old vehicles and organise finance, from home.

Dealers however, are not cut out of the buying process entirely as customers are matched to their nearest bricks-and-mortar outlet that will handle servicing and delivery of the vehicle.

According to the brand, “our dealer base will be the foundation of our online store by providing their invaluable logistics and sales support capabilities, as well as building a relationship with the customers, providing ongoing maintenance and warranty services for the life of the car”.

Speaking to GoAuto at the announcement, Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard said the brand worked hand-in-hand with the dealers to develop the online store and pilot program.

“The dealer is integral to the whole process,” he said. “We’re working with the dealers on trade-in, we’re working with dealers on delivery, once the vehicles are delivered the dealers have to do all the servicing afterwards.

“That’s why it’s been important for us to work with them as we’ve evolved this.

“A car can’t deliver or service itself. Our dealers are the backbone of our online store and have been involved in creating the online shopping experience since its inception.”

Mr Bernhard said the online service – launched in a pilot phase that covers the Melbourne metro area – would not appeal to every new-car customer, but gives customers flexibility in the buying process.

“We know that customers today do most of their research online,” he said. “As they narrow down the vehicles that they want, it can offer them convenience, but it’s going to be different for individual customers.

“Will online car buying be for everyone? No, or maybe not yet, for us it’s about offering the choice. Consumer buying habits continue to evolve and we’re constantly anticipating what’s coming so that we are ahead of the game and how we can offer the best customer experience alongside our dealer patterns.”

Vehicles available on Holden’s online store include the new Commodore, Astra small car, Barina hatchback, Spark light car, Equinox mid-size SUV and Trax crossover.

However, the popular Colorado pick-up and its mechanically related Trailblazer are not currently available online, something that will be addressed in the future, said Mr Bernhard.

“At the moment it’s a restricted range, but the plan would be that it does go further than that,” he said. “We’ve got a little bit of a challenge with some of the things like the LCVs which are very complex builds – we’ll eventually roll out across the range.”

According to Holden, up to 30 per cent of buyers would consider buying a car entirely online and, while other car-makers have sold vehicles online before, the Lion brand’s online portal is the first to offer online vehicle valuation and trade-in.

While the process does not work for vehicles older than 15 years, users simple input a vehicle registration and mileage, as well as specifying the condition, to receive an estimated value of the car.

The entire purchase process, including trade-in valuation, takes just three minutes, while vehicles offered online are at a fixed no-haggle price.

Mr Berhnad said migrating the whole vehicle buying process to a digital platform is what sets Holden’s program apart from others.

“The piece that’s different is the trade-in up-front – its full end-to-end,” he said. “We’ve expanded what some other people have done before and really offered customers that whole experience and convenience.”

Once customers complete the online buying process, they can specify a date of delivery for their new Holden vehicle.

Mr Bernhard said Holden offering its vehicles online is part of the digital change in the automotive retail industry, something the brand will get ahead of with its new store.

“Ten years ago, we were tentatively buying clothes online and it was inconceivable to buy big ticket items like TVs through the internet, but as consumer tastes change and confidence in online commerce has grown, so too has Australian consumers desire to purchase at a time and location that is convenient to them,” he said.

“It’s only a matter of time before the digital revolution reaches automotive retailing.”

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