Our Blog: A tale of two retailers

  03 April 2018

For the past five years, Auto Retail Network has published the Website Report which looks at how the major retailers perform online. As part of this we electronically mystery shop all of the retailers involved with a question about a used car they have for sale.

Wanting to replace our family car, at the beginning of this month I did this for real.

On a Saturday morning, at about 8am, I sent two emails about two cars I’d seen advertised online that matched my criteria. One of the cars was at my local BMW franchised retailer and the other at an independent used car supermarket a little further away.

My email was a simple one; was the car still for sale and could I book at test drive – I supplied my name, address and phone number, as well as (obviously) my email address.

In about an hour the used car supermarket emailed back to let me know the car was still available, providing some additional info I didn’t already have from the advert and giving me a number and a name so that I could arrange a test drive.

Not having heard back from my local BMW retailer by 4pm I used the dealership’s live online chat to ask about the car again. This time I was told that the car was no longer available, and nothing more.

The following day I test drove and bought the car from the used car supermarket and had a thoroughly good experience.

What amazes me, even though the car was no longer available, is that the BMW retailer didn’t make any attempt to either get back to me, or try to sell me something else, or even find out what I was in the market for. In all honesty, I would have preferred to go through BMW’s approved used scheme, and paid a little bit more, because the warranty is excellent. But when sales teams don’t respond to enquires then customers, like me, are bound to go elsewhere.

In what is expected to be a falling new car market, you would expect more focus on used cars. But for this retailer, judging by my experience, this clearly wasn’t the case.

I can only hope that this was a one-off from this franchised retailer and that they are selling enough cars new cars to help their business grow. But I suspect not.

What this shows is that simply getting the basics right is enough to win sales.

And if you want to go beyond the basics then why not sign-up to Auto Retail Network’s Used Car Conference in April? You can find out more about that here.

Tristan Young
Auto Retail Network
Editorial Director

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