For more than a decade, automakers have attempted to sell new cars and trucks on the Internet, but with little success. However, Volvo seems willing to take crack at it.
The Swedish automaker, now owned by China’s Geely, went through a trial run with its new XC90 earlier this year, selling out the entire run of the crossover. It’s using the Internet again for its “Designer’s Choice” XC90, which consists of four models with different equipment and colors determined by the maker’s design team.
The company now plans to expand its use of the Internet across its entire line-up. The process allows a buyer to order a Volvo online and submit a down payment using a credit card. Volvo forwards the information to a local dealer who then contacts the buyer. A buyer can get a refund if the buyer and the dealer can’t agree on price, delivery date or other particulars.
It’s part of Volvo’s effort to better utilize its marketing and sales dollars, executives said. The new strategy is called “Volvo Way to Market.” It focuses on four areas: marketing tools, digital leadership, dealerships and service.
“With the Volvo Way to Market, we don’t want to throw all existing marketing concepts overboard,” said Alain Visser, senior vice president, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Cars.
“Many of them exist for a good reason. We also don’t want to have the arrogance to say that we are better than all the rest. But we do have the self-confidence to say that we are different. So our way to market needs to be different as well.”
Aside from using the Internet to facilitate sales, Volvo is cutting back on its appearance at auto shows. Going forward, the automaker will concentrate on three key international motor shows: Geneva in Europe, Shanghai/Beijing in China and Detroit in the United States.
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In addition, Volvo will host a yearly event that acts as its own pseudo-auto show to promote its own vehicles. Online sales and marketing will play a prominent role in its marketing strategy. The company also plans to upgrade its dealerships and service offerings.
All of this, of course, means Volvo is increasing its marketing budget as part of its new effort. The automaker hasn’t suggested how much it will spend to accomplish all of this, but the remake of dealerships alone will be in the tens of millions of dollars… or kronor.
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Volvo’s new dealerships will have a globally uniform layout and look and feel, which the automaker describes as “Scandinavian and truly Volvo.” Current dealer stores will be upgraded to reflect the style of the new locations, including a display of the “Scandinavian roots of the Volvo brand and the key attributes and customer benefits of Volvo products,” the company said.
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Some of the changes will include offering customers a drink in Sweden-produced glasses, sound and smell elements that portray a Scandinavian spirit and waiting/lounge areas that offer highlights from Swedish cuisine.
In addition, when a customer buys a new Volvo, he or she will be assigned a Personal Service Technician. This person will be the contact buyers deal with throughout their dealership experience. This program will be in place globally by 2018, Volvo said.