Digital changes the automotive industry
An enormous car parts and services market in Poland, valued at PLN 31 billion, stands at the precipice of great change, which is related to the re-definition of the border between B2B and B2C models.
Challenge? To address the needs of new, digital customers: both end-customers and business partners. Today, manufacturers and distributors more frequently communicate with motor vehicle owners, e.g. to offer useful informational materials or help them find a trusted repair shop in the vicinity. The standards of communication with business partners are also changing: market leaders are investing in intuitive, convenient solutions for their B2B clients.
New, digital customer
End customers (in this case car owners) begin to visit the websites of manufacturers and distributors more frequently. Data gathered by Google indicates that a modern user makes over 900 digital interactions when choosing a car: they search for information about various brands and check which choice will be the best in relation to their wallet size1. An equally complicated purchasing process extends to other car-related issues, mainly its maintenance and servicing. Customers searching online for information, opinions, recommendations and price comparisons visit the websites of manufacturers and distributors. What they will find on the website will decide how their customer journey will progress.
Distributor assumes a new role
Motointegrator, website owned by Inter Cars, is a good illustration of this trend. It’s addressed to car owners searching for a repair shop in their vicinity that’s able to perform a specific service. Motointegrator also features useful information written from a layman’s perspective that help final customers understand what a specific service involves and to what they should be paying attention. The website features user opinions as well. In short, Inter Cars, the largest distributor of spare parts for passenger cars in CEE, understands the customer journey of end-customers and makes all efforts to meet their needs and make it easier for them to make a decision. Motointegrator is useful not only for car owners, but also for repair shops, i.e. the business clients of Inter Cars, because the distributor carries out marketing activities (such as content marketing).
Is it a B2B or B2C model? The actions taken by Inter Cars no longer fit on that map. We are talking about a B2B2C model that extends to many players on the market: manufacturers, distributors, repair shops and end-customers. This approach is not specific to automotive industry. Forte, one of the biggest European manufacturers of ready-to-assemble furniture, carries out content marketing activities on its website, addressed to those looking to decorate their apartment: you can find suggestive, emotionally-charged descriptions, large photos depicting products in a specific interior design and you have the option to conveniently browse the catalog and sort products by various criteria.
New business client
Business clients are changing as well. In 2025, millennials will represent 75% of active employees. Even today, increasingly younger workers are entering the market, raised on intuitive and engaging application which they use predominantly on mobile devices: in 2016, content consumption on mobile devices exceeded content consumption on desktop computers for the first time in history.
In addition, each of us, functioning in private among convenient digital solutions, gets accustomed to the standard set by Facebook, Google or Amazon. We expect a convenient, contextual searching, personalization, intuitive information architecture and transparent design.
Customer Experience IN B2B
For this reason, leading companies are developing online systems that meet the highest Customer Experience standards for their business partners. For example – the new B2B e-commerce system being implemented by Inter Cars. Each, even the smallest, element of the platform was designed so as to make it easier for the user to search for the necessary part in a huge database featuring over 1.7 million products and deliver the most important information, e.g. when the relevant ordered part can be delivered to the repair shop. The system is also responsive, which means that a repair shop worker can conveniently order the necessary part on a mobile device.
In addition, the online ordering system was combined into an omnichannel process with customer service provided by a call center via the Assisted Service Module. When ordering any part, a partner repair shop worker can call their dedicated account manager who can see the worker’s screen, help them in an efficient manner, add a rebate, or even place an order for the customer.
This way Inter Cars can be certain that customers receive the highest standard of customer service and the entire process of searching for and ordering parts is as convenient as possible.
It seems that the automotive industry (and in particular its segment described above, i.e. the parts and services market) does not have a significant presence in the digital channel, but that would be an oversimplification. Despite the fact that we are not dealing with penetration at the level exhibited by the fashion industry, the internet’s effect on this industry can be clearly seen.
Digital revolution provokes the change of established roles and the search for new areas. Inter Cars, a distributor in a traditional sense, has been expanding its field of operation: it has become a supplier of software to repair shops and a source of valuable knowledge for final customers.