In spite of car showrooms remaining closed for many months during lockdown and many workers being furloughed, there has been some hope for those working with online retail. Snows, which operates 50 car dealerships from 29 sites across the south of England, has been one such success story, revealing today that it has sold over £37m worth of cars since making online car buying a reality.
The forward-thinking car retailing group, which employs over 900 people regionally and sells car brands such as SEAT and Toyota, has been quick to see the benefits of online car retail, blending its physical showroom operations with its online platform. It launched its initial product, called Click & Go, in August 2019. When COVID-19 emerged just a few months later, they acted swiftly to develop their online solution even further with leading auto ecommerce solutions provider GForces, to create a fully end-to-end online car buying solution.
Their aim was to produce one of the best ecommerce sites in the car retailing industry, which customers would enjoy using, have complete faith in and be able to check in for human support whenever they required it. Using GForces’ leading-edge technology and insight, their end goal was not just a modern, eye-catching and easy to navigate website, but ultimately to future proof their technology for years to come.
Many of its customers have welcomed the ease and convenience of the new Snows website. One of them being local Romsey resident, Paul Greenfield. Aware of Snows from passing by their Peugeot Romsey dealership regularly, he was casually browsing online on a Saturday evening, relaxing over a glass of wine. Commenting on why he opted to use the online platform, he said, “I wasn’t actually looking to buy. I thought I’d have a look to see what cars were available at Snows, with the view to finding something for me, then I saw the ideal car for my wife. It was her 40th birthday the following week, so it was a nice thing to do for her and they even managed to deliver it on her birthday just a few days later, which was brilliant.”
He also singled out the simplicity of the online process. “It was just so easy. We put in the details of the car we wanted to part exchange, all the finance details, clicked a button and off it went. End-to-end, from finding a car we liked to putting all of our details in, it was about half an hour. Within 24 hours we had an email to say that the finances had been accepted. The ease and convenience of doing it online was fantastic and I would certainly do it again.”
The team have added plenty of additional functions in recent times. As well as increasing their Live Chat capability, the team began offering video call appointments with personalised walkrounds, alongside a small, fully refundable deposit mechanism to support its real-time click and collect-style used car retail offering.
Launched in May last year, the Group instantly saw demand for its used cars soar, especially during lockdown. It has now sold over £37 million pounds worth of cars since embarking on their online journey and as a result, they are now one of the most successful end-to-end car retailers out of all of GForces’ UK customers.
Their growth statistics in recent times make for impressive reading. During the last nine months, Snows have conducted over 2,700 online transactions, with the average online purchase, given their used car sales focus, being £13,700. Notably, the value of transactions quadrupled to £5.7 million in May 2020 when they launched their fully refundable £99 online reservation fee. Intriguingly, 30% of transactions, have also been placed outside of standard office opening hours, and in keeping with these increasingly digital times, over 60% of their online business has also come from mobile devices. For the year January 2020 to January 2021, Snows experienced a 27% increase in web leads, 47% rise in Live Chat leads and 28% boost in the number of users visiting its website.
Having seen the commercial benefits of offering their customers a simple to use, pleasurable online transaction platform to complement their physical showrooms, the Snows team are not resting on their laurels. They have just launched their first online new car buying solution across their Volvo franchise, with several more to follow with its car brand partners including Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Toyota. They are also looking to add online service booking, where customers can simply book their preferred date and time slot on the Snows website in seconds.
Commenting on the success of their online sales journey so far, Stephen Snow, CEO, Snows, said, “We are a relatively compact, family-owned business, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be innovators. Over the years, we have always prided ourselves on the quality of our customer service and we were completely focused on ensuring that our customers enjoyed their online experience and were able to interact with our showroom based staff easily whenever they needed to. The results we’ve achieved have been terrific, but just as importantly, the feedback from our customers has been incredibly positive and we’re looking forward to serving the local community both online and offline in the years ahead.”
Tim Smith, Chief Commercial Officer at GForces added, “The Snows team were quick to see the potential of online car sales, particularly during the pandemic, investing in the technology for the longer term health and growth prospects of their business. It has paid big dividends for them, not just in terms of the number of transactions they’ve made, but also in the high customer satisfaction scores they have managed to achieve. We look forward to supporting them as online car sales continues to evolve for many years to come.”