By CAPosts 14 January, 2021 - 05:00am 27 views
The coronavirus pandemic gave an unexpected turn to the dynamics of the automotive sector in the last decade, both in the type of vehicles they placed on their sales floors and in the way they were sold. In a matter of months, manufacturers had to buy protective equipment, train their workers and intervene their plants and sales floors to make them safe areas, while their dealers launched microsites that would facilitate the sale of vehicles remotely before the slogan of staying home. With just over a year after the first coronavirus case was detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the light at the end of the tunnel is still far away. New strains of coronavirus emerge as governments of countries continue to try to control outbreaks of the disease with new restrictions and with the application of the first doses of vaccines.
© iStockphoto The sector hopes to recover a percentage of the more than 8,000 jobs in 2021, amid the need for more salespeople specializing in digital sales. 1. Evolution of electronic commerce 2. More digital sellers
Forecasting the direction the industry will take this year is difficult. The sector has projected an increase in sales of 11%, which would mean exceeding one million units, however, "everything will depend on how the health condition evolves throughout the year", says Gerardo Fernández, senior director of Nissan Mexicana sales. Despite the uncertainty that still prevails among the brands and associations in the sector, the specialists consulted agree that 2021 will be marked by four trends: Although the automotive sector evolved slowly in the last five years with electronic commerce, the constant call to stay at home, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated the process for dealers to begin delivering experiences online. “Previously, the digital issue had been underestimated by the industry. But in the midst of the pandemic, we faced the challenge of incorporating virtual tools, ”says Lucien Pinto, director of sales and marketing for Ford of Mexico. Some dealers have enabled 360 virtual showrooms that allow customers to make virtual tours of the dealership or have an augmented reality experience while being served by a salesperson who connects with the customer as in a zoom call. Buyers now have access to things like home driving tests that they can schedule online. "Last year, there was a great learning experience and now we understand that e-commerce is here to stay, both for the sale of vehicles and for servicing vehicles," says Pinto. During 2020, 8,342 jobs were lost in vehicle dealerships - equivalent to 6% of the total - due to the impact that the pandemic had on sales. The industry expects to be able to recover a percentage of these jobs in 2021 as the need for more salespeople specialized in digital sales grows. “When you don't have the ability to physically see the vehicle, the ability to communicate clearly and efficiently on the part of the salesperson plays a critical role,” says Ford's Lucien Pinto. Those who continue in the business will have to acquire new skills. The Jac brand, for example, is already undergoing this transformation. “In the midst of the health contingency, half of the company became a call center. We gave each person a database, a training session, and they all became digital sellers, ”says Isidoro Massri, general director of Jac México. "But we knew we couldn't stay there," he added. The company created a digital department that is now in charge of monitoring and channeling all the leads that arrive through the different digital platforms to the 35 distributors. “Today we have 100 times more leads than two years ago,” says the manager.
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3. Smaller dealers 4. The 'boom' of vehicles multipurpose and 4x4
Another change that specialists foresee in the future is a reduction in the size of the dealerships, which will no longer require so much space to meet all customer needs, as more phases of the purchasing and maintenance process migrate to digital platforms. “Customers realized the convenience of asking the dealer to schedule an in-home test or to pick up their car from home and take it to service. The customer understood that effortless is good and there may be some who from now on will no longer go to the dealership as much as before, ”says Pinto. Road trips are catching on again. People now seem more excited at the idea of taking their car and driving a couple of hours to a nearby destination than at the prospect of getting on a plane. This is a trend that opens a window of opportunity for vehicle manufacturers that are bringing back their 4x4s to ride the wave. With a still reduced flight offer, due to entry restrictions maintained by various international destinations, people are hitting the road, traveling to places where they can safely practice social distancing or simply drive to avoid flying. As they leave the confinement, they will want to travel, but perhaps they will not yet feel comfortable to make the trips that they used to do internationally. "We are going to remember these places that we had close by and that many times we let them pass by," says Gerardo Fernández, from Nissan. On the other hand, the combination of the needs of self-employment and of maintaining individual mobility could drive the demand for multipurpose vehicles, which serve as work vehicles as well as family vehicles. Brands that offer pickups or minivans among their options - such as Toyota Avanza or Suzuki Ertiga - could benefit from this trend.