The jubilant festival of Diwali is almost upon us, and it remains a major celebration across Singapore and India. This year, the festival of light brings with it a particular sparkle, as both countries begin to regain from a difficult year and optimistically plan ahead for the future.
Singapore’s GDP rose by 7.9% in Q3, according to the Straits Times, while in India, e-commerce sites are seeing record numbers during the annual festive sales, even as high-value goods are flying off the shelf. What’s more, there are encouraging signs for our industry. In India, passenger vehicle sales from a year back. Tesla has plans of opening a plant in Bengaluru, and Hyundai has opened an electric car manufacturing facility in Jurong.
In the Diwali season, most B2C businesses see a rise in sales but a striking spike is always witnessed in automobile purchases. Due to the onset of the pandemic and the threat public transport poses, the majority of people who commonly used public transport are inclined towards using personal transport. In short, despite changing consumer preferences, there is a reason for auto manufacturers to be cautiously optimistic over the next few months.
What will matter to customers?
One can easily infer what customers are likely to look for as part of a purchase in the new normal. While traditional considerations such as price, design, mileage and financing are a given, the pandemic will bring in new ones, just like it has in other industries (it’s worth recalling that as early as March 2020, ‘contactless delivery’ was still a novelty).
“Digital becomes more important along the entire purchase funnel; less than a third of younger consumers prefer conducting car sales & aftersales in person at a dealership; Respondents are even more interested in contactless services, approximately half of respondents willing to pay extra for this service” – McKinsey
Given this, any OEM offering these services could gain preference among potential buyers. There is precedence in other industries: Retailers and QSRs that offered digital/contactless solutions thrived – such as Walmart and Starbucks respectively.
The promise of safe, contactless, hygienic servicing removes a major barrier to purchase of a brand, while automatically disadvantaging others who do not have a similar offering.
Convenience as a USP
For long, after-sales service has been a pain point for customers, and a bugbear for OEMs. Digitizing the process, as 21North offers, solves multiple problems. For customers, there is unmatched convenience and getting their vehicle serviced becomes as easy as ordering food through an app. For a manufacturer, they can offload a non-core activity while benefiting from an improved customer experience.
We also expect existing customers to seek out services. After a long period of a lockdown or irregular usage, families might be keen on making sure their vehicle is performing well before embarking on a much-deserved family trip or even a weekend drive. A convenient option to get it serviced without leaving home or work should surely be an appealing option while letting them know the company cares about them even after the purchase.
While the coronavirus will pass, customers’ preference for convenience will not. We believe that this will continue to be a long-term trend, and OEMs will benefit greatly from digitizing their after-sales service process. Which is why, we encourage them to offer it now, and build preference among potential customers.
The team from 21North wishes you, your employees, customers and loved ones a great festive season!