The automotive aftermarket has been urged to keep pace with change and embrace the opportunities brought about by digitalisation in the latest, free-to-attend session of the Automotive Aftermarket Webinar Series, ‘Digitalisation: Accelerating the recovery of the aftermarket brought to you by Automechanika’.
Sponsored by Ecommotors, the digitalisation webinar, organised by Automechanika Birmingham, presented a panel of experienced industry professionals including Dr Julia Saini, Associate Partner at Frost and Sullivan; Andrew Rowson, co-founder and Head of Services at Ecommotors; and Peter Lawton, Senior Section Manager at SMMT.
According to Automechanika, hundreds of automotive professionals registered and joined the free-to-attend session, which was moderated by Mark Field, Director at Impression Communications and PR Manager for Automechanika Birmingham. Field engaged the audience with polls and took questions to shape the discussion.
Saini began the presentation by sharing key trends and forces that have shaped the automotive business ecosystem over the past few months. With mobility requirements changing worldwide, the aftermarket has not been immune to the changes brought about by the pandemic, but non-driving behaviour has affected the industry the most with there being a prominent change in the way business is carried out.
Saini said there has been a digitalisation surge in the sale of parts, services offered to customers, retail opportunities and collaboration between the supply chain.
COVID-19 has forced companies to push business models that weren’t the main focus beforehand. This was supported by a poll taken throughout the course of the webinar, showing that 70 per cent of respondents had invested in new digital technology over the past few months.
New demands include considering customer safety and wellbeing, contactless delivery in e-commerce parts and delivery, an online marketplace for booking parts, embracing the hygiene car care market such as cabin filters and vehicle sanitisation products, and on-demand service models for mobile mechanics and parts including tyres, batteries and fuel.
Saini said that this all leaves the aftermarket with a huge opportunity to invest, especially as digital adoption is set to grow globally at 1.5 times the pace in 2020 as compared to other years.
There has also been increased activity on digital platforms, with a huge uptake in online touch points in a customer’s journey for replacement parts and automotive on-demand services such as mobile mechanics.
“All of these changes will lead to a dramatic increase in opportunities,” said Saini. “Disruptions will shape the aftermarket going forward and future vehicles will not be repaired but managed as digitalisation produces data that allows companies to plan ahead and prepare accordingly.”
In an industry panel, Saini, Rowson and Lawton then discussed the practical steps needed to realise the benefits of digitalisation, urging the aftermarket to recognise that demands and relationships have changed as people want convenience and accessibility more than ever before.
A second poll asked whether the industry needs to upskill to embrace digitalisation, with 91 per cent of respondents believing it does.
Rowson spoke about embracing the inevitable and that companies need to have the appropriate logistics in place to service customer demand efficiently, while Lawton encouraged the sector to upskill and train at any given opportunity, as well as tapping into resources to capitalise on the available talent pool.
A final poll asked viewers whether they would increase spend on digital products and services, with 95 per cent answering yes.
Viewers were then given the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session, with the panel providing a balanced dialogue, discussing how to protect against a second or third wave of COVID-19, managing prices in a competitive market, and any changes to the route to market.
The live session was recorded and is available here, while the next session is scheduled for December 2020 with details to come.