Used car dealers across Europe need to collaborate with their motor finance partners in order to effectively compete with new digital disruptors who have entered the market in recent years, says iVendi.

Paul Bennett, recently appointed to the newly-created role of Senior Vice President of International Business and Banking Alliances, said that retailers and lenders needed to ensure that their offering matched the best that new entrants could provide.

“Disruptors are in the process of changing used car buyer expectations about what can be delivered through online channels and established retailers have to compete.

“Our view is that existing dealers will remain and thrive but generally only if they collaborate with their financier partners to provide online retailing options in the same customer-friendly, transparent fashion offered by fresh-faced disruptors.

“The danger facing car retailers is that they might become authors of their own demise by allowing new entrants to dominate and become the norm. A genuine commitment to digital sales is no longer an option or a ‘nice to have’ but an essential component of doing business for the used car sector.”

Paul said that iVendi’s experience from dealer partnerships with finance providers across Europe showed that customers wanted self-serve solutions that inform, educate and empower them to make better buying decisions.

“iVendi has developed a highly scalable, market-leading, SaaS vehicle retailing platform that is very well established and widely deployed through motor finance providers and many thousands of their dealers in the UK and, more recently, Germany.

“The number lesson from its development is that buying a car online is not like buying a book online. It is a process that consists of many decisions and negotiations, small and large, over what may be quite a long period of time, that may take place wholly online, wholly in the showroom or, more frequently, in both.

“This means that the technology that dealers and their finance providers adopt must be able to reflect these real world conditions. It must rise to this challenge and provide what we have started calling a ‘connected retailing’ experience.

“At minimum, this should equal the offerings of the new digital entrants – ease of access, use and communication; a wide choice of fully prepared vehicles; bumper-to-bumper warranties; simple trade-in options; access to finance and decisioning online; direct home or office delivery in a closed vehicle transporter; and – best of all – wrapped up in a no-quibble, seven-day money back guarantee.”

Paul said that finance providers were the ideal partners for dealers in this process of digitisation both because they had the mass to encourage widespread adoption of technology and because finance remained the cornerstone of most car purchasing.

“A car is a high-value item and, for the overwhelming majority of customers, the purchase requires a financing solution involving a meaningful fiscal commitment over several years and demands very serious consideration from the buyer. This central fact bolsters the argument for financiers and retailers to provide customers with an easy, transparent and convenient way to shop.

“Ultimately, motor finance providers and used car retailers must enthusiastically embrace new technologies to satisfy nascent demand for digital retailing, accommodate new customer behaviours and futureproof their positions in a rapidly changing landscape. They will do this most effectively by working together.”

Paul’s automotive career spans more than 30 years during which time he has, as an entrepreneur, invested in the auto finance technology sector, successfully exiting Chrysalis-Solmotive – a company, of which he was a co-owner.

Also, he has held both board and senior leadership team roles with a number of major international data and systems providers to the automotive finance industry, and the automotive retail and fleet sectors, including Solera Holdings, cap hpi, Autofutura, and Reynolds and Reynolds.

Over the past 17 years, his focus has been on the asset finance industry, primarily the promotion, sale and delivery of complex FinTech and SaaS solutions to tier one automotive financial services companies, their brand partners and retail networks in UK, Europe, Asia Pacific and China.