The pandemic has created a “new digital divide” for dealers between those who have adopted relatively rudimentary and more advanced online customer journeys, iVendi has reported.

CEO James Tew explained Covid had forced dealers to accelerate their digitalisation plans and that the sector had made huge progress, with a much greater number of solutions in place – but the capabilities of the technology adopted varied widely.

He said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that dealers as a whole have moved on perhaps five years in 18 months as a result of the pandemic thanks to the need to adopt technology that could handle the effects of lockdowns and remote selling.

“However, those dealers that have adopted e-commerce products will have seen varied results and this is where we have seen a new digital divide becoming apparent.

“Some technology is well-established and relatively good at simply generating applications and online reservations. These systems do not really achieve much beyond these limitations but that’s not a criticism – for some dealers, right now, that is as much as they want to achieve online.

“On the other side, others have really looked to reap the rewards of digitisation and now have in place comprehensive online customer journeys that are able to replicate almost every process step that might take place in a face-to-face showroom sale.”

James said that these more sophisticated and effective solutions required a change in mindset and required dealers to examine their business models in detail.

“Key questions need to be asked including ‘What processes need to change or adapting to optimise a digital purchasing channel?’ and ‘How do I handle more complex situations such as adjusting vehicle and part exchange price, upselling warranties, managing finance declines, negative equity and more?’

“All of these factors are features of the majority of car purchases but older solutions will not be able to resolve them, effectively bring the online customer journey to a halt.

“Better technology makes handling these points easy and really highlights where the digital divide lies. It’s the difference between what is sometimes described as a ‘happy path’ sales journey, with no complications, and those complex processes that make up the vast majority of real world car purchases.

“What is becoming clear is that those dealers who we have seen adopt more advanced systems are continuing with a relatively high level of online transactions in the post-Covid market, while those using older technology have seen more of a falling off”