CONFIDENCE among car retailers is high as the Chief Executive of online car supermarket BuyaCar.co.uk declared his market view as "bullish" as England's second lockdown began.
Andy Oldham, who heads Britain's most popular* online supplier of cars, said that lessons learned during the first UK lockdown have put the company in a strong position to maintain supply and delivery to customers, even as showrooms are again forced to close.
BuyaCar.co.uk, with total sales of more than 22,000 cars to customers, rode out the nationwide UK lockdown earlier this year thanks to its dealer partners maintaining service bays and workshops to ensure a steady supply of clean cars to the business.
Despite voluntarily halting deliveries to all but essential car users - such as medical staff, police and other essential service workers - BuyaCar.co.uk safely handed over more than £1 million of vehicles to motorists during the first coronavirus lockdown between mid-March and the end of June. When lockdown ended BuyaCar achieved its busiest summer months on record as pent-up consumer demand for cars was released.
Today, Andy Oldham says, the lessons learned during that unprecedented crisis have put BuyaCar and its dealer partners in an "infinitely stronger position this time around" to maintain business continuity and keep motorists on the road.
Many dealers who partner with BuyaCar.co.uk are equally confident that business can be safely maintained during the latest coronavirus measures, thanks to lessons learned during the initial crisis.
This time many have refined click and collect procedures as well as supplying BuyaCar.co.uk with cars that can be delivered to customers' doors, thanks to maintaining all their background operations as showroom doors close.
Karl White, Managing Director of Thame Cars, said: "We all learned a lot during the first lockdown and BuyaCar demonstrated that it is possible to scale up online sales and deliveries, safely conforming to the tightest public health measures and underpinned by our rigorous preparation standards. This time around, with BuyaCar's help we are fully confident of riding out this latest disruption to normal operations."
Andy Oldham said: "The biggest challenge during the first lockdown was maintaining supplies of cars, as many dealers initially closed their businesses entirely. But when they saw that we were able to safely continue to deliver cars many re-started their behind-the-scenes operations to help us to supply our customers.
"Thanks to all the lessons learned last time in how to safely prepare, supply and deliver cars we are in an infinitely stronger position this time around to continue operating through the new period of restrictions."
Now that traditional dealers have again been ordered to close their showrooms many are already poised to supply BuyaCar with essential stock to help maintain business continuity.
Gareth Graham, Sales Operations Manager of Kia dealer Drayton Motors, said: "When our showroom was forced to close during the first lockdown we valued BuyaCar's ability to keep delivering our cars to customers, responsibly and safely. With another lockdown under way we are glad of the additional opportunities to maintain business continuity that BuyaCar provides."
And for Richard Brown, Operations Director at Stebbings Car Superstore, in Norfolk, selling online through BuyaCar.co.uk will again be instrumental in pushing through the latest market disruption.
He said: "We value BuyaCar as an additional sales channel in normal times but it really came into its own when our showroom closed during the first lockdown. Combining our ongoing workshop and preparation operations and BuyaCar's ability to keep delivering our cars safely to customers provided valuable business continuity in an unprecedented time. Now that the market is disrupted again we are confident in maintaining continuity with the help of BuyaCar."
BuyaCar believes that the coronavirus crisis has accelerated Britain's conversion to internet car buying by at least two years toward the moment it becomes as mainstream as shopping on Amazon.
Signs of undiminished consumer interest in car-buying include strong digital traffic to Dennis Automotive motoring sites driving visitors to BuyaCar.co.uk, such as AutoExpress and CarBuyer along with social media activity by CarThrottle.
Andy Oldham said: "Although these are challenging times for everyone who sells cars I am bullish this time around.
"Because BuyaCar and our dealer partners have honed our ability to operate responsibly and safely under lockdown conditions we can operate close to business as usual, which includes fully contactless delivery to the customer, if required.
"But I'm also bullish about the bigger picture. We have seen several high-profile players joining us in the online car sales market this year and there is at least one more to come. It is clear that there is real business and consumer confidence in online motor retail and that the coronavirus crisis has done nothing to dampen it.
"The future of car sales was always going to be increasingly online and it's clear that the challenges of the coronavirus crisis have only accelerated that process."
*Article Source www.buyacar.com