Hyundai soft launches new digital retailing tool

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Hyundai is the latest automaker to join the online digital retail revolution with the soft-launch of a program called Hyundai Express.

The system, built by the same team and running on essentially the same platform as Genesis at Home, gives customers the opportunity to complete more of the sales process on their own time and at their leisure.

It is also another example of how automakers are working to catch up to other retail verticals when it comes to e-commerce and online shopping convenience.

“If this becomes successful, we can cut down the amount of time our salespeople are spending processing the slightly more mundane parts of the purchase process so they can spend more time talking about the features and doing proper handovers,” explained Lawrence Hamilton, director of marketing at Hyundai Canada.

“From our point of view, this couldn’t have come soon enough. If anything, I think we would have liked to get this to market years ago, not months ago.”

Hamilton said work on Hyundai Express was going on at the same time the team was developing the Genesis retail strategy. Motoinsight built both platforms though Hyundai’s version doesn’t dive quite as far down the purchase funnel as Genesis.

Where the entire process from start to finish can be completed online for the new luxury brand, Hyundai Express stops short of letting users make a deposit. That difference is a reality the brand cannot work around given it is up to individual dealers to negotiate on final price.

Whereas Genesis retails a corporately owned fleet through a series of retail agents Hyundai has 216 independent dealerships it is not about to cut out of the purchase process.

The automaker quietly launched it in early June. The system lives on the OEM’s website as opposed to the dealers’ meaning the logistics around a limited pilot would have been difficult to navigate. Hamilton said the idea was to put it online but not too prominent and work out any kinks while it is live and in market.

There is no additional cost to dealers for the system and they do not pay for the leads. Users will enter through the build-and-price process.

Canadian Black Book facilitates trade in values – one top-level number near the beginning and a more detailed one further down the purchase funnel that his handled directly by the dealer.

Hamilton said he expects Hyundai Express will generate roughly the same number of leads as the existing build-and-price tool.

“This will likely become something that serious customers just end up doing. People will drop off in the process based on where they are in the purchase process. Someone six months out from buying a car will likely not fill out a credit application,” he said.

The biggest challenge Hyundai faces with Express, he added, was ensuring it becomes habitual for dealers to use the system on their end. The company has a lead management system that delivers all website leads to dealers automatically, now it will alert dealers when there is a Hyundai Express shopping action to deal with.

What you are likely not to see anytime soon is a marketing push in support of the program. Hamilton there are still tweaks to the new corporate website – launched in February – being made and they also want the dealers to get familiar with it before giving it prominence on the site.

“In about two or three months, once we have really settled the dealers into it, we’ll start improving the visibility of the shopping tools on the website as they are in slightly stealth locations right now,” he said.

Advertising by both corporate and individual dealers might follow.

Though this is a uniquely Canadian initiative, Hyundai Express is not the only foray into digital retailing undertaken by the brand.

It launched its Click to Buy website in the U.K this years with direct online sales with fixed pricing and no haggling.

The website includes custom configuration options, trade-in pricing for existing vehicle, finance options and direct payment of deposits. For cash customers not using dealer finance sources, the company said it’s possible to buy a new car in online and get home delivery and pick-up of the trade-in.