Maruti Suzuki plans digitised financing options amid growing online demand

Maruti Suzuki, which has witnessed a significant jump in online enquiries, plans to offer fully-digitised financing options for car buyers, according to a senior company executive.

The country's largest car maker that sells on an average one out of every two cars sold in the country has seen digital enquiries spike to over 45 per cent during the lockdown months.

Maruti Suzuki Executive Director for Sales and Marketing Shashank Srivastava told PTI that the company has already digitised as many as 21 of the 26 touch points in a car purchase journey, including documentation and payments.

"We've launched a pilot for a one of its kind finance marketplace on digital that assists a customer in the car buying process by providing digital easy finance. And hopefully over the next six months, we should move to fully digital financing options which will be an industry-first," he said.

Srivastava also said that certain touch points such as the final delivery and test-drives cannot be digitised.

"We are currently looking at a 'phigital' approach wherein we seamlessly blend the limited physical touch points with the maximum digitised touch-points so that we strike a balance between digital interface and actual dealership showrooms," he noted.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed from March 25 to curb spreading of coronavirus infections and various relaxations have been done starting mid-May. Auto sales have been significantly impacted due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that have also resulted in disruptions in economic activities.

"During and after the lockdowns were lifted we have seen an instant acceleration in digital enquiries. Today, digital is contributing to nearly 35 per cent of enquiries and during the lockdowns especially, we saw more than 45 per cent of our enquiries coming from digital channels only.

"This was only 13 per cent in FY19 and 5 per cent in FY18. Today digital enquiries have become the largest medium for enquiries," Srivastava said.

Elaborating on how Maruti is going about its digitial drive so that they can provide a more personalised experience to customers, he said the company has set up a content management system.

"This helps us personalise communication to each customer depending on the digital signals in their purchase journey with us, and provide them with the best car buying experience. Staying connected with the customer throughout the year is a priority for us because on digital, she need not wait for a marketing campaign, instead she can be reached out on demand," he said.

Further, he said the company follows 'always-on' approach for campaigns across channels and that currently it was focusing on a connected digital+ CRM experience as well as working on initiatives like social CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

"Most of our digital insights help us in designing our content marketing strategies that help us engage with the customers better. A testimony to this are the content creation initiatives on Nexa Music that also encourage young music talent to create original sound tracks.

"We are also creating a mobile first content for the digital as that is the preferred device for internet browsing. Digital is at the centre of all our strategies," Srivastava said.