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Wheels on the web: the future of auto retail

Changing consumer behaviours are leading car dealerships to invest heavily in their online operations, but will people really buy their cars over the internet?
Wheels on the web: the future of auto retail

Who would be a car dealer nowadays? The historically cyclical sector has found itself in a slump in recent times, driven by declining registrations for both new and used cars, tightening environmental regulation and the threat of tariffs should the UK crash out of the EU under a no-deal Brexit.

While many within the industry believe the contraction in volumes is temporary, they also say there are longer-term structural changes in the industry, which could force out smaller players.

As the battle for customers moves from the forecourt to the search engine, profound technological change looks set to alter the maintenance and capabilities of cars, with the rise of electric vehicles requiring different equipment, expertise and parts for their ongoing maintenance, while the increasing sophistication of onboard software provides dealers and the car companies themselves – known as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in industry parlance – with a wealth of data that could radically alter how they interact with their customers.

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