Online shopping has boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many customers abandoning the high street in favour of browsing from the safety of their own home. But while most retailers are facing a spike in demand, industries that traditionally rely on human touchpoints are having to react quickly to changing customer expectations.
European used car buying platform, CarNext.com, turned this challenge into an opportunity. The company provides a platform for traders and consumers across Europe to find their dream car, and while ecommerce was already being offered, the total lockdown of all its showrooms in March became a catalyst for digital transformation.
Founded in 2017, CarNext.com aims to become the most trusted vehicle reseller in Europe. “We want to give our customers an amazing end-to-end experience, with transparent pricing, a strong returns policy, and flexible services that meet their needs,” explains Joep De Caluwé, Head of Digital marketing and Analytics at the company.
Creating a digital showroom
With support from innovation partner, Emark, the company rapidly transformed its business to combine the convenience of ecommerce with the personalised experience consumers expect when buying a car. Website visitors can sign up to a weekly digest that notifies them when a car that matches their interests is available, turning their phone or computer into a digital showroom.
Customers can then arrange a personal tour of the car via video conferencing with a member of the sales team. “The key to getting up and running quickly was to keep things simple, for example using video apps that most people already have on their phone,” explains Mieke Bruins, Marketing Automation and CRM Specialist.
To help follow up after appointments and keep customers engaged, the team configured the Salesforce Mobile App with basic functionality to track the customer journey through trigger-based touchpoints. Data captured in Salesforce also gives the marketing team deeper insights into which approaches are the most effective and helps them identify opportunities for improvement.
“One unexpected benefit of launching the project during the pandemic was people were much more willing to accept new ways of working and embrace new tools. Change management can be an issue, but when it’s in everyone’s best interests to adopt new processes to keep staff and customers safe everyone really pulls together,” says Bruins.
Going the extra mile
Video appointments are now available across Europe, and the company has grown its digital support teams to help answer customer queries remotely. Customers can choose between collecting their car from the showroom or having it delivered to their home with a 14-day returns period. As services evolve, keeping in touch with customers has never been more important, and with Marketing Cloud, the team can deliver personalised messaging with the latest news on COVID-19 and revised opening hours.
To help control the spread of the virus, more people are looking for a second-hand car to avoid using public transport, and in April, CarNext.com ran a fun and innovative marketing campaign to help capture leads in the Netherlands. Via an integration with Facebook, entrants signed up to win one of 100 caps signed by top F1 driver, Max Verstappen. Once registered, the 9,000 competitors activated their entry by subscribing to marketing emails – and with a 67% activation rate, the low-budget campaign was a roaring success.
“Salesforce is a powerful and dynamic solution, and between our team and Emark we’ve got a great mix of skills to help us optimise the platform and unlock that essential 360-degree view of the customer,” adds De Caluwé. “By offering seamless, flexible, and personal services every day we’ve got an NPS score of 65, but the real measure of success is the feedback we get from happy customers who’ve found the perfect car.”
Find out more about CarNext here.