Nic Carnell's blog: Why throwing sticks at the internet won't help car industry evolve
05 June 2017
Hello from Hellocar. And welcome to my new blog for BusinessCar. The motor industry is in my blood and I started my first business, The Car Buying Service, five years ago and sold it last year to WeBuyAnyCar.com. It was talking to hundreds of customers at my previous company that lead me to realise there is a real desire from consumers to bring the used car buying journey online.
As a result, this month, I launched Hellocar nationally. The car industry is in a process of change and that's what I hope to talk to you about in my blog - the industry, technology, changing consumer behaviours and how it's possible to make the adjustments which ensure this industry continues to thrive.
There's no doubt that the car industry is a traditional one. In fact, I can't think of many industries which have lasted so long and maintained so much relevance to the consumer. In a world where we have become used to products becoming obsolete almost overnight, sales of both new and used cars hit record highs last year.
But whilst our business has a heritage, it has maintained its relevance because it has adapted to new challenges, technology and even fashion. We have gone from the first Model T to the Tesla Roadster in exactly 100 years and from gas guzzlers to today's eco-friendly hybrid or fully electric cars - brought to the market because of consumer demand.
And whilst consumers continue to change (there's not much call for Henry's two-speed transmission these days), so must the industry. The big driver for change today is the internet. In the automotive industry that means savvier consumers, looking for better cars at better prices. In the fleet world, it means an opportunity to shorten the re-marketing supply chain and to realise higher margins.
Like me, your business may be taking the opportunity to see how it can use the internet to change the model.
With Hellocar, every car undergoes a 168-point AA inspection, consumers can search the site for the right car for them, opt to pay via credit card or finance and have it delivered to any UK address within five days. From delivery there is a seven day test-drive/money-back guarantee, giving the consumer total peace of mind from start to finish. This puts the customer in control in a way that they have become used to in a world of same-day deliveries, free returns and cooling off periods.
The fleet world should also see this kind of technology as an opportunity. Why not make fleet cars one of the main suppliers to this emerging marketplace - placing cars directly with consumers and realising the benefits in margin and time to sale?
Some will say it's too much trouble and that the status quo in remarketing is tried and tested. As a start-up entrepreneur, I say that the car industry has lived this long by being at the forefront of change. And I know, through those customer conversations that there is a real appetite for a new, digitally-led approach to buying cars.
Innovation is part of our DNA so let's embrace those opportunities to change wherever we see them. After all, where can you find a charge point for a Model T these days?
Nic Carnell is the founder of Hellocar.