A new study by BearingPoint shows that Tesla dominates geographic availability and ease of online sales of new vehicles. The study evaluated the online offerings of automotive manufactures in the US, Europe, and China along with their “online sales readiness” in those markets. The analysis revealed that Tesla stood out from the other OEMs due to its presence in all markets and also due to Tesla’s sophisticated online sales offerings.
A press release about the study noted that car manufacturers were selling fewer cars through their traditional sales channels due to the changing needs of customers and their purchasing preferences along with last year’s temporary closures of physical dealerships and sales outlets due to the pandemic, but that they still weren’t at Tesla’s level when it comes to online sales — in any market.
Dr. Stefan Penthin, Global Leader Automotive at BearingPoint, shared his thoughts about the study. “The goal for every OEM seems straightforward: create a webshop to sell cars online as soon as possible. But simply creating an online shop is not enough. It also means transforming the company into a future-ready organization that adapts to changing customer requirements and buying behavior. A car purchase is a significant investment and a very emotional process. Therefore, a 5-star online buying experience compensates for the lack of personal interaction by guiding customers through the buying process, from horsepower to necessary paperwork. State-of-the-art processual and technological realization is a must to make it happen.”
Some key takeaways from the study are:
- OEMs in Chinese & UK markets are the most represented with online stores.
- OEMs hardly touch the online sales market in the US, and OEMs do not consider the US, German, French, Italian, and Spanish auto markets to be markets with high online sales maturity.
- Tesla is the international leader in online car sales in presence and performance. It’s everywhere and had the best performance in all of the analyzed markets.
- Volume manufacturers are on par with premium manufacturers in online stores.
How Tesla Stands Out
The online sales experience from US manufacturers scored poorly with the exception of Tesla.
The study’s preface mentioned that online sales are a hot topic in the automotive industry mainly due to Tesla’s success with its “revolutionary sales model” along with OEMs seeking new ways to meet customer expectations and be where the customers are.
In the Chinese market, the study showed 11 manufactures with an online shop. In Spain and Italy, the only provider with an online shop was Tesla. China had the most online sales according to the study, and also the broadest functionality. Even brands with no online shop offerings in their home markets, such as VW and Audi, have online shops in China.
In the US, Tesla, two GM brands (Chevrolet and GMC), and Honda have an online shop. In the UK, Tesla provided the leading practice with the highest score in the global analysis. Dacia was closest, with a higher score than any other non-Tesla brand in any market.
What The Study Recommends For How OEMs Can Catch Up To Tesla
Since Tesla is in the lead here, the study had some ideas as to how other OEMs could up their online sales game to catch up. To start: “Quickly create or mature your online sales journey – through information-gathering, to purchase, fulfilment, then usage – adapting your product offering and processes in a customer-centric way that allows rapid success. Produce a seamlessly designed, end-to-end sales process that allows your customers to progress through the entire customer journey online, without the need to switch channels.”
Another step is to make sure the products you offer offline are as similar as possible to what you offer online.
The last step is to replicate your brand through the use of innovative touchpoints such as virtual and augmented reality. This creates “immersive, emotional experiences that transport the customer into the driving seat.”