With a third of drivers more likely to buy a car online as a result of COVID-19, CarNext.com is well positioned to make the most of the opportunities offered by the ‘new normal’. But how does CarNext.com’s online car buying journey work, who’s involved - and, most importantly, what do customers think?
More complicated than buying a pair of shoes
Buying a pair of shoes online is easy and instant, but the process of buying a car online is a little more complicated, explains Jan Wouter Kleinjan, Chief Marketing and Product Officer at CarNext.com. A much higher cost of investment means “...it takes a little more to convince the customer, and there are several elements to make it a success.”
Having the technical capabilities to deliver a frictionless service is the starting point, says Jan Wouter. “Quality photos and maintenance history make cars as real as possible on the platform. We also offer customers financing options and a unique escrow system, which means customers only have to transfer money when a car is delivered to their satisfaction. These technical solutions help us to match or even beat the kind of service you could expect if you walked into a traditional dealership.”
Now live across Europe, the CarNext.com online journey is supported by teams from various disciplines, including marketing, product, pricing and retail preparation - even external fintech companies.
Jan Wouter: “It takes a lot of teams and components working together to make the online journey work simply and efficiently for our customers. This is actually a never-ending process and, together, we’re constantly developing all kinds of new products and services to improve the journey even more. For example, we have simplified the checkout process from seven steps to three, which is a great improvement.”
CarNext.com’s marketing team has also been busy upgrading processes around online customer acquisition - the first step in the customer journey. A recent campaign using Instagram clips saw “huge uplifts” with brand awareness increasing by 9%. Over three weeks, CarNext.com engaged 75,000 people who weren’t previously aware of the brand.
Offline service still important
During Covid-19 lockdowns, with stores closed, countries saw tremendous online growth as customers turned to the internet. “People want to avoid public transport more than ever before - which meant that we actually saw a rapid increase in our online traffic. Again, though, this called for innovation - which is why we offered customers the opportunity to book video calls via WhatsApp or Facetime with in-store specialists, and take bespoke video tours of cars.”
While customers have responded well to the online offering, they still require offline support as well, says Jan Wouter. ”Many customers still need some real-life confirmation around making such a big investment, which is why a multi-channel approach is important. If a customer reaches out on Facebook Messenger but wants an answer on WhatsApp or by phone, we can offer that.”
With a high Net Promoter Score of 66 in Q2 2020, the CarNext.com brand is performing well online and offline, but monitoring will remain important, explains Jan Wouter. “We’re constantly asking for feedback from customers, sending out online and offline questionnaires and taking into account their feedback in everything we do. We want to know where and why people might disengage so we can offer an even better service next time. Ultimately, this helps us really clearly hear the voice of the customer, close the loop and offer a better service.”
With lockdowns on the horizon for the foreseeable future, CarNext.com will continue to focus on improving the online service experience for its customers, including expanding the vehicle offering through new partnerships and improving virtual touchpoints that have been set up as a result of Covid. “Clearly the move towards online car buying isn’t just a temporary trend but an essential part of the new normal - we want to stay ahead of the game,” said Jan Wouter.
Jan Wouter Kleinjan
Chief Marketing & Product Officer