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Mercedes India: Online contributes 20% to Mercedes India sales: Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO

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New Delhi:
Covid-19 has prompted new ways of working and doing business. Even carmakers are innovating, enabling the buying process in a contactless way. Mercedes-Benz India has seen a rise in digital buying of cars during the pandemic. In an e-mail interaction Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India discusses contactless sales of cars and more. Edited excerpts:

What changes have you made to enable a safe customer experience in the post Covid 19 era?

Wherever markets have opened up and business unlocked, our dealerships have also resumed their operations with complete adherence to safety protocols and social distancing norms. Currently, our dealerships are fully operational. This year also our delivery levels during the festive period were similar to last year, and we have undergone normal business, adapting to the new normal.

While we are gradually witnessing a rise in digital buying of luxury cars, our customers often wish to take the car delivery at the dealerships on auspicious dates. Our digital and contactless sales processes on the other hand are in place and online sales now contribute up to 20% of our sales volumes in a short span of time.

What all services have become digital to reduce face-to-face interactions internally and with external stakeholders (customers, partners etc)?

Customers can opt for a complete contactless process for the entire journey beginning with car configuration, consultation with sales executives, loan approval, online concierge to actual home delivery of a car. We have also made our service digital and contactless.

How much of the car buying process has been automated or made contactless (in percentage terms) and what all does that include?

We have seen the entire car buying process becoming contactless during the pandemic. Currently, the entire process from configuration, consultation, loan approval, home delivery and even service has transitioned to digital.

Volume wise up to 20% of our sales comes from online sales channels, and we expect this to increase gradually in coming years.

In 2019 or in pre-Covid times what percentage of sales were online?

The current contribution of online sales is around 20%. We were selling pre-owned cars online; however, we added the entire new car portfolio online since early 2020. The pre-Covid online contribution would be less than 5% of total sales.

Were the solutions (for contactless operations) developed in-house or did you work with tech partners to develop them. In case of the latter, who were they?

A very important innovation that aims at adding value and convenience to our end customers during the pandemic, has been developed by our engineers at MBRDI.

We have introduced into the MBUX navigation system, the location of the Covid-19 Testing Centres. This data will be available for all the major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. It is also proof of the power of connected vehicles and this update will be over the air for all MBUX equipped Mercedes cars.

We also partnered with Roadster Inc, USA for collaborating for our e-commerce venture, which we started in 2019 and furthered strengthened in 2020, along with our dealer partners

How does digital buying (contactless process) work?

Customers get a virtual buying experience with virtual consultation, online car purchase, Contactless delivery etc. They can visit
www.shop.mercedes-benz.co.in and explore the model range of Mercedes-Benz and AMG cars. In addition, they can book a virtual consultation session with our sales consultants.

They can perform the following actions online: configure their cars using Car Configurator, apply for loans, online consultation, online concierge, online approval of loans, select showroom delivery or opt for home delivery.

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