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Hyundai Australia lays out plans for digital era
COVID-19 lockdown fast-tracks HMCA’s move towards full e-commerce platform
12 May 2020
By TERRY MARTIN
HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) is preparing to move to a full e-commerce platform that will transform the buying experience for consumers.
And the lockdowns and widespread industry changes instituted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have served to fast-track the program that should be up and running online in the second half of the year.
As GoAuto has reported, the Australian arm of the South Korean brand is now offering ‘Click to Buy’ on its national website that enables consumers to purchase a car online.
But HMCA’s new marketing director Kevin Goult has revealed that this is just the first step in a move towards a full-scale e-commerce platform that will bring a much broader and more sophisticated level of functionality.
As well as ordering a car online, this would extend to the ability to purchase accessories and other components, having the website suggest various options to add onto the vehicle, and also enable the customer to see stock availability and choose a car that is close to the desired spec and known to be immediately available.
Mr Goult said that when he took on the job in February, HMCA was already preparing to move to a digital platform that included online vehicle sales, and that he saw it as an opportunity “to switch that on quickly”.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t cover the entire network in one go, but what it did do is provide a great platform to do a ‘test and learn’ to see what we know we can do right, what we know we can do better, and of course what we can also do to significantly improve,” he said.
As well as “switching on” this existing platform, Mr Goult said he had now been able to step this up, working with HMCA’s digital agency Orchard.
“We’ve been able to look at how we now do an improved version of (not only) online ordering but e-commerce – it’s a full e-commerce platform – to enable us to sell cars,” he said.
“Whilst we see the dealer network is 100 per cent important to our business, and that remains so, it’s offering the consumer that flexibility. It’s about taking what we’ve got, and that’s fantastic, and making it even better, and making it smarter, and making it a full-service e-commerce platform.”
Mr Goult and his team had spent the past six weeks or so with the coronavirus-forced lockdown finetuning ‘Click to Buy’ and other first-wave elements of the platform, ensuring product information and pricing are perfectly aligned, for example.
“We’ve got to a point where we’re getting ready to build the e-commerce platform, which will be about another three months. So it might seem ironic, but almost towards the end of lockdown, all going well, we should have a platform which is a lot more inclusive – so it includes all the dealers, and it also has a higher level of functionality,” he said.
“So towards the back half of the year, we should have a system which will enable you to not only buy the product, but then hopefully also (enable you to) buy all the accessories and componentry that goes with it.
“My ambition, and certainly what the company is looking at as a vision, is that you can select the model, select the specification, select the accessories, and then literally choose the (exact) car that you want.
“It can also be a platform that looks at our stock – and you can then choose one from stock that closely matches that spec – and then pretty much as you see on a lot of common e-commerce sites, you can see the opportunity that says, ‘Users who purchased this product also considered…’ And it could be roof racks, towbars, etc.
“So it has that vision and capability of being an all-round e-commerce platform. You can go right up to the point where you can order your car, place a deposit, and then it will service you to the dealer from your postcode, so you will go to the dealer and that’s where you will do you finance and still sit with a qualified financier.
“You will probably be able to do three quarters of the transactional process.
“On ‘Click to Buy’ you can actually buy a car outright, we can do that already. But going forward, the ambition is make this a much, much bigger platform – as the laws unfold and change then, of course, hopefully you’ll be able to buy finance online as well.”
Mr Goult emphasised the importance that “you still have that dealer experience … that tactile handover experience” but admitted that accommodating negotiations over the final price was still an area for further study – despite national driveaway pricing already in place – and that dealers had really only responded “generally okay” to the moves towards e-commence.
“I think generally it would be okay to say they (dealers) are responding well to it. I think the fact that as long as we explain that Click to Buy and the way e-commence works is not to take business away from the network, it’s actually to try and enhance the experience the customer has, I think that’s probably the single biggest thing,” he said.
“It should be seen as complementary and an enhancement to (the dealer network), rather than a replacement. Everybody’s fear is the ‘replacement of’ and I think other brands are in that mindset, they’re talking about reducing size.”
The former Audi and Jaguar Land Rover marketing chief also said that keeping lines of communication with dealers open was important.
“From a marketing perspective, it’s about improving and developing communications with the dealer network,” he said.
“It’s always good to listen, as a manufacturer, it’s very easy to forget that because when you’re the manufacturer of course we’ve got the mothership putting the pressure on us and that pressure just passes down, but it doesn’t hurt to have a two-way conversation and most definitely, in my previous roles, I’ve always taken pride in trying to nurture those sorts of relationships to make sure we do listen to the dealer feedback.
“They’re on the front line … and they’re hearing the customer feedback. We need to listen to that dealer feedback and we need to act on that from a communications perspective to make sure it’s right.”
Mr Goult also said one of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic was fast-forwarding change in the industry, including the move towards a full-blown e-commerce platform.
“It’s kind of strange but it’s actually a really interesting challenge because not only do we have to put our creative thinking caps on, but we have to put our technology cap on as well,” he said.
“My view of the industry right now is that we’ve always had the technology available to do these great things, but we’ve never really found the right excuses to put it into place. And I think right now we’ve got a reason to put this technology into place.
“It’s bringing us forward. What it’s actually doing is bringing marketing into the same level of technology that the Hyundai product has got, because we’ve got highly advanced technology products and I think now we’ve got the right time, the right reasons, to be changing the way we market to match that.”
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