"The new platform is a win-win for both the customer and our approved dealer partners"
Stephen Corwood - Owner, Motor Connect
The independently owned business based in Northwich, Cheshire has already driven a 50% rise in turnover during its latest financial year by shifting its strategy to focus on online sales and scaling up its innovative motor retail marketplace that is based on collaboration not competition with other UK used car dealers.
Owner Stephen Corwood, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the used car sales market, switched from the traditional route to used car retail at the beginning of the first lockdown as auction prices soared and customers looked for contact-free online sales.
He bought a transporter to deliver nationally and quickly developed his online platformt as a marketplace for UK dealers to advertise stock (free of charge).
The innovative business model sees Motor Connect taking ownership of any vehicles sold via the site where its team then handles the whole customer experience, from vehicle preparation to delivery to their door. MotorConnect.co.uk also enables customers to arrange finance, part exchange and warranties for a complete hassle-free process.
Stephen explains: “In May last year it became clear that the traditional paths to used vehicle retail were going to become expensive – coupled with consumers looking for a single digital touchpoint to buy, sell and finance a car. We changed what we did internally and it’s worked so well for us.
“For us it’s also been about being different and not putting ourselves in the same boat as some large dealer groups and supermarkets that sit on stock.
“Our business model means we can scale at pace – and this is what we’re doing now. Rapidly expanding our dealer partner network to increase vehicle volumes on the site. We’re also operating in a much more efficient and data-led way that’s of huge benefit. We can add new digital features with ease and invest in getting our platform and cars seen.
“The new platform is a win-win for both the customer and our approved dealer partners.
“Our strategy is about managing the full customer journey across all touch points using smart tech, customer insight and our experienced personnel. As the process is so streamlined and connected, often, customers can buy a vehicle online, put their finance in place, and get a vehicle delivered to their door within just two days.
“Working with a select network of dealer partners, we provide an additional route to market and, by taking ownership of vehicles to see through the whole customer-service process, dealers can benefit from faster stock turnover and reduce their staffing costs.
“While the industry average stock turnaround is 44 days, we’re achieving 23 and under. And we’re championing the independent dealer, so that our partner’s stock gets seen, gets sold and that they can benefit from our investment in digital technologies as well.
“Our enquiries can be car led, finance led or for a part exchange quote – the important thing is that when they reach us that they can choose from our services and be well looked after.”
Stephen continues: “There is a significant shift to online sales in our industry, and we’re at the forefront of this with a digital platform baked in consumer insight and digital know-how.
“We’ve partnered with some of the best digital professionals in the industry to develop our new site, which ensures the whole customer journey is a smooth one. More and more industries are using digital to offer consumers a more personal, concierge style service – and this is what we can offer too. Meeting customer expectation to be able to use one platform to manage their purchases.
“While COVID-19 accelerated the shift to consumers buying cars online, we were on the front foot of this swing ahead of the pandemic having already begun our digital-first approach to used car retail.
“We’re disrupting the ‘competitive nature’ of car sales opting for collaboration instead where we facilitate sales and apply our first-class customer service. We look at the whole customer journey and customer experience – and this is where our skill lies, in using data and insight to continually adapt and meet today’s expectations.”
Motor Connect’s current track on turnover is £9.6m with a target of £20m in the next 20 months in line with its strategy.