Tuesday, 19th October 2021
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Vertu Motors weathers the storm

Vertu Motors, a major player in the UK automotive retail sector, has built a fully-digitised remote vehicle purchase capability, drawing on Twilio’s communications tools. Vertu Motors, which operates 147 outlets representing 23 vehicle manufacturers across the UK, has been able to deliver a multi-channel digital showroom experience, encompassing all elements of the process, from meeting the dealer and looking at the vehicle to completing FCA-compliant finance paperwork.

This has enabled the organisation to quickly ramp its finance signups to close to pre-COVID levels and to maintain sales volume through the most recent pandemic restrictions across the United Kingdom. Without the technology, sales volumes would have been decimated during lockdown periods, as customers were unable to visit the dealerships.

When the UK went into lockdown on 23 March 2020, like every other organisation, Vertu Motors had no idea what this would mean for its business. There were questions as to whether there would still be an appetite for buying cars and how that could happen when customers couldn’t come into dealerships to complete a transaction, particularly given stringent processes around financing. Their response was to create a two-pronged experience, putting the safety of both customers and staff at the forefront while enabling purchases to be made and business to continue during very challenging and unpredictable times.

On average, since the beginning of the most recent lockdown, Vertu has been able to sell almost 3,000 cars a week without requiring customers to come into a dealership ahead of collection.

Twilio Programmable Video was used to embed video chat into Vertu Motors’ Showroom product, which is used by its team for day-to-day interaction with all Vertu systems and customers. Using video allowed the Vertu Motors team to do everything as though the customer was sitting in front of them in the dealership, from creating and presenting a deal to customers to working through finance calculators in a compliant way. Furthermore, if the customer had a question about the vehicle they could not physically see, the Vertu Motors team could simply “walk” the customer over and let them see any elements they needed to be sure of via the tablet camera, giving them confidence to make often significant financial decisions at a distance. Finance calculations can be prepared and reviewed via video, in a fully compliant manner.

Once the customer has made the decision to proceed with a purchase and wants to agree a finance deal, Vertu Motors has developed a way to manage the transitional “paperwork” in a remote environment. From the purchase contract to any finance agreement, Vertu Motors has built a solution to enable digital signature, in compliance with FCA regulations. Using Programmable SMS from Twilio, Vertu Motors is able to send a customer a link to the document via SMS as well as a 4-digit code. Once happy with the content of the document, all the customer has to do is to reply with the 4-digit code and their date of birth to sign. The document then comes back into the Vertu Motors system for the sales manager to add a digital signature. As well as facilitating a fully remote transaction, this approach also removes the chances of any potential debate over the legitimacy of signature, meaning it not only meets regulatory requirements but also provides enhanced robustness. Since the introduction of this system, Vertu Motors has sent more than half a million SMS signature messages.

To conclude the transaction, all signed and countersigned documentation is sent in a batch to the customer for their records, using Twilio SendGrid.

David Crane, chief operations officer at Vertu Motors, comments, “This has not been a shift from analogue to digital: Vertu Motors was already moving forward with digital acceleration but the pandemic meant we had to put our foot on the accelerator. Because of COVID-19, things that would have taken months became an immediate priority so we could continue to meet the needs of our customers and our business. With the model we’ve implemented, our customers tell us they can’t believe how easy it is and we’re delighted to have been able to build a simple solution to a complex problem that’s delivered clear value. As we look ahead to what may come in the next year, it’s clear that, whatever happens, the great strides we’ve made create solid foundations on which we will continue to build.”

David Parry-Jones, senior vice president, EMEA at Twilio, adds, “Research recently conducted by Twilio highlighted that more than eight in ten UK companies (82%) report digital customer engagement to be critically or very important to their success going forward, with 43% saying that revenue would be lost should their customer engagement not be digitised. Furthermore in manufacturing and automotive globally, spend on digital transformation increased by 44.6% through the pandemic. Vertu Motors is a prime example of an organisation that has made this accelerated shift and been able to meet the needs of its customers and reaped the benefits, while others may have faltered.”


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