Your doors may have to close but keep your digital forecourt open.
Our data clearly shows that vehicle buying doesn't stop during a lockdown and smart retailers find ways to operate. They keep essential sales flowing whilst building a strong pipeline for the future. The average buying cycle for a consumer can be up to 3 months from research to purchase, so your stock needs to be visible to today's browsers to capitalise on any pent-up demand, building your pipeline for January and into the new year. Retailers who stood still during the last lockdown were the slowest to recover.
What did we learn last time?
Use past learnings as your blueprint for success.
Consumer demand doesn't stop
They say every cloud has a silver lining, and the silver lining this time must surely be that we're not doing this for the first time. The biggest lesson we took from the first lockdown is that consumers still need vehicles and demand quickly recovered from an initial dip as we saw a surge in pent up demand which translated to record sales months for many.
Hold firm on price
If you were a regular viewer on our webinars throughout the first lockdown, you'd recall that some retailers panicked when the first lockdown was announced back in March and started to reduce prices. We now have the benefit of hindsight to know that retailers have since been able to hold firm on price and we see no reason this should change as we enter another lockdown, helping you protect healthy margins on sales you can fulfil.
In fact, as of w/c 26th October, we've seen the average used car price increase for the last 25 consecutive weeks, up 8.4% year-on-year with both diesel and petrol faring well.
As you close your physical doors, your focus needs to shift to your online presence on Auto Trader. Many retailers successfully traded via Click and Collect or Home Delivery mechanisms during the first lockdown, which you can view as a successful blueprint to replicate.
Of equal importance is building your pipeline of engaged consumers who are not ready to purchase yet but may be prepared to buy as restrictions ease, whether that's in December or the New Year. Boxing day is always our busiest day on Auto Trader, a trend we expect to see this year with the launch of our new consumer marketing campaign on the same day. Having your stock on Auto Trader to capitalise on this will be essential.