Volvo claims industry first as it trials selling cars online

Volvo Cars is claiming an industry-first by making a limited number of its new XC90 model available to buy online only as it looks to the car’s launch to revitalise the brand and its approach to marketing.

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The car marque is making 1,927 individually numbered cars, dubbed the ‘First Edition’, available online, with the number coinciding with the year Volvo was founded. The digital store opens on 3 September across 29 countries, with the top of the range version selling for £68,000 in the UK.

The move is part of plans to create as online ecosystem that aims to make the process of shopping for, buying and owning a Volvo easier, according to Volvo’s senior vice president of marketing, sales and customer service Alain Visser. Volvo is also revamping its website to make it more responsive and content-focused.

“The online only First Edition is just one example of Volvo Cars’ revitalised approach to marketing activities and outstanding personal service. We also see the introduction of the new XC90 as the perfect platform for introducing a new, outstanding customer experience, which we are rolling out globally,” says Visser.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Volvo Car’s senior digital experience manager Erik Jivmark says the digital trial could lead to Volvo making more of its cars available to buy online. Industry analysts Frost & Sullivan estimate that 5 per cent of all cars will be bought this way by 2020.

“It seems obvious that given the trend in other industries that digital commerce will come to [the automotive] industry as well. [The website] is an entry point, 70 per cent of consumers start the buying process online, they will eventually ask why they can’t buy a car online,” he says.

The new website, created by R/GA, aims to position Volvo as a digital leader with this first iteration acting as a “stake in the ground”. Jivmark says Volvo has changed the platform it runs its website on so that it can show more dynamic content and create a more personalised experience for customers going forward.

It will showcase the car marque’s model, but Jivmark claims it is about more than just the cars, offering an opportunity to entertain and engage with customers and bring the Volvo brand to life.

“Volvo is becoming a more premium brand and we need to reflect that in the digital experience we offer,” he says.

Brands have previously allowed customers to reserve cars online, with Ford making a limited number of its Ecosport model available via Facebook. However, Jivmark claims Tesla is the only other car marque to allow customers to pay online without visiting a dealership and that it doesn’t do so “at this scale”.

Under the trial, customers will make a down-payment online and select a delivery dealer, who will get in contact to arrange the final contract and payment.

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