For most Indians, buying an automobile, 2W, 3W or even a Commercial Vehicle is a family affair and no less a festival of sorts. Other than being a family-led choice, Indians are choosy when it comes to colours, date / month of purchase and most importantly, the Dealer itself, based on their past history of maintaining periodic maintenance and service. So much so, that there are so many notable spots in the country, such as the “Benz Circle”, a predominant Traffic Junction named after the presence of the first “Mercedes Benz” showroom there many decades back when wealthy people across Andhra descended to the town to buy their priced possession. The Dealer-Partner, as they are called these days (from the erstwhile days of being known Dealer-Reseller) is an intrinsic part of the Automobile ecosystem and can make or mar the purchase decision of customers as well as build brands for the parent company. Maruti and Hyundai, which have over 1,000 dealerships each in India are examples how the Auto-Brands have been built. Similarly, the erstwhile and present dealers of 2W brands such as Hero, Honda, TVS, Royal Enfield are glaring examples of success breeding success and in fact, play an important role, even in selling tractor brands such as John Deere or Mahindra, trucks from Ashok Leyland or Volvo and even for JCB road rollers.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has not only disrupted the market in an extremely unsavoury manner but has also pushed 100s of Dealers out of business, especially those who have piled up stocks over the months with minimal or Nil sales. In June ’21, Mercedes India came up with the first of it’s kind offer where the parent company would invest on the working capital (Inventory) and the infrastructure of the physical store and drive potential walk-ins to the Store while the Dealer-Partner has to manage the customer experience, sales conversion and provide world class after sales service. Citroen India have taken the next step now with a Direct to Customer (D2C) model by taking online bookings, completing the financial transactions such as arranging Vehicle Loans online and/or upfront payments, insurance management, upselling add-ons and accessories and eventually delivering the new vehicle at the doorstep of the Customer. This is not just unique, but a first of it’s kind in the automobile Industry where the potential Customer turned Buyer doesn’t visit a Retail store, physically.
The company has offered this support and service across 50 cities in India other than the 10 where they have a physical showroom – Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune and Kochi. The company’s newest model in it’s stable the C5 Aircross (featured above) which has over 1,000 bookings and has delivered 325 of them. Saurabh Vatsa, Brand Head, India, Citroen told PTI, “The home delivery process is live now. We have delivered two vehicles in Chandigarh and Surat and more are on the way,” Citroen had launched the C5 Aircross SUV in April 2021 at a launch price of Rs. 29.90 lakhs and has witnessed considerable demand, despite the second wave of the pandemic which was prevalent all through the country. The online booking link can be accessed here.