The dramatic swing towards online car sales induced by the global pandemic will lead to it becoming "the new normal", according to data from a leading automotive ecommerce firm.
GForces, which provides ecommerce solutions for 20 manufacturers across 65 markets and counts one-third of the UK's franchised retailers as its customers, says new and used cars purchased through its online platform increased by 1228% in 2020.
That translated to more than £500m of online car sales through its platform alone, according to the firm. During April and May 2020, when the first UK lockdown was in place, purchases through its platform quadrupled compared with January to March 2020 - up from 640 per month to 2675 per month.
"As with many other industries, Covid-19 has accelerated the shift to online, in a very traditional automotive sales market which was ripe for disruption," said GForces COO Tim Smith.
"However, what is interesting with the car industry is that we firmly believe there was latent demand there all along. Often the missing key ingredient was the lack of easy-to-use, seamless systems for consumers to interact and transact with."
Despite vaccines increasing the likelihood that fewer lockdowns will be needed in 2021, GForces suggests many dealers and customers fully acquainted with online sales may rely on them further. It forecasts transactions through its platform to double to 58,000 this year and grow to 72,000 in 2022.