As part of its digital thrust, Maruti Suzuki India has launched a digital marketplace that assists a customer in car-buying process, Mr. Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), informed Team Autoguide. Over next few months, it aims to provide fully digital financing options, he said. Mr Srivastava also elaborated on a range of initiatives taken by MSIL on digital front.
The following is the text of the online interaction:
Team Autoguide: Maruti Suzuki has taken the lead in adopting digital processes in customer-facing activities. Will you please elaborate which new areas have been digitised after the COVID-19 outbreak?
Shashank Srivastava: Given the current sentiment, robust digitalisation steps are being administered. We have digitalised 21 out of 26 touch-points in the consumer purchase journey including documentation and payments. Further to this, we have launched a one-of-its-kind finance digital marketplace that assists a customer in the car-buying process by providing easy digital finance. Over the next few months, we aim to provide fully digital financing options. However, there are certain steps which cannot be digitalised such as car delivery and test drives. Hence, we are currently looking at a ‘phygital’ approach wherein we seamlessly blend the limited physical touch-points with maximum digitised touch-points to strike a balance.
TAG: Contactless delivery of vehicles is the new norm post-pandemic. To what extent are Maruti dealerships following it and has the company mandated it for them?
SS: Strict SOPs are mandated across all our dealerships. These SOPs offer the highest level of sanitisation and hygiene to our customers as well as the employees. Customers can explore the entire product portfolio and electronically personalise cars. All the documents for vehicle purchase can also be submitted digitally. As for test drives, the dealerships are carrying out complete sterilisation of the test-drive vehicles before aligning it for customers.
TAG: In respect of financing, how are you operating in the new environment? How supportive have been the banks and your other collaborators?
SS: Post-COVID consumers are looking for tailor-made schemes like step-up schemes or balloon EMI schemes or option to skip some EMIs. We have closely worked with different banks and NBFCs to formulate and implement such financing schemes.
TAG: Has Maruti Suzuki witnessed an increase in online inquiries post-COVID? How significant has been the increase and what has been the conversion rate of such leads?
SS: Digital inquiries which contributed up to 5 pc in FY 18-19, increased to 13 pc in FY 19-20. Post COVID-19, we have witnessed an instant acceleration in this. Today, digital contributes to more than 45 per cent of the inquiries.
TAG: Do you think going more digital will hamper your engagement with the customers? How much of digital focus has been enhanced in your marketing strategy and what are your new CRM initiatives?
SS: Gone are the days when precise targeting and segmenting customers could get you results on digital. Consumers today do not want to engage with push advertising, no matter how targeted it is. Hence, Maruti Suzuki follows a strict ‘Always On’ approach for its consumers. Our focus is on a connected Digital + CRM experience. Focused social media marketing, insightful content creation and immersive AR-VR experiences are some of the new-age tools that are being utilised effectively.
TAG: What specific steps have you taken, of late, to push digital means for selling used vehicles on your True Value platform?
SS: To avoid physical contact, customers are encouraged to adopt digital platforms such as e-mails, phone, video calls, company website and a dedicated mobile application. Through these options they can search and shortlist their preferred pre-owned cars.
TAG: It was only last month that Maruti introduced its subscription programme in Delhi-NCR. How has the market responded? What is your outlook for coming months?
SS: Our objective is to provide access to the subscription programme to every individual in the country. We aim to offer Maruti Suzuki Subscription in 40-60 cities in the next two-three years. Over the next five years, we expect to garner nearly 3-4 per cent of our car sales in these cities through our subscription programme.