BMW GB has rolled out a system where buyers can now carry out the whole process of buying a car online. Previously, some steps could only be completed at a dealership.
Customers can specify a car, arrange a test drive if necessary, agree financing options and payment method, and get a trade-in value for their own car before finalising the delivery date.
Help is available from a 'BMW Genius' or a sales executive at the retailer via live chat or email, if needed.
"News of this announcement coincides with general purchasing trends for all types of goods increasingly moving to the web," BMW said in a statement. "Online global commerce is expected to reach US$2.5 trillion by 2020. This trend is reflected in the car industry with 97% of buyers researching their car purchase online and customers now visiting a retailer an average just 1.4 times before completing their purchase. This compares to an average of four visits per purchase in 1998. Industry research also indicates that nearly half of all buyers would consider buying online."
Sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson claimed: "We are the first car manufacturer to offer a digital sales solution for the entire product range and the full end-to-end buying or leasing process online. Now, the customer can do it all from the comfort of their home. The integration of the BMW Genius via live chat and retailer messaging functions where the customer is able to get personalised support in real time, makes this system unique and a new benchmark for the automotive industry."
Multi-channel chat options (webchat or email) are said mirror the in-showroom BMW Genius experience and are offered from 8am to 10pm.
Before being rolled out nationally, BMW Retail Online was trialled with nine UK retailers and proved such a success that 95% of BMW UK retailers have decided to offer this service to their customers.
Nigel Hurley, Sytner Group BMW Divisional Managing Director, whose retail outlet took part in the trial, said: "This is great news for retailers. It forms part of our ever more customer-centric focus and makes life easier for the customer. We see this becoming an increasingly important channel in the future."