Kia has joined the growing list of carmakers allowing buyers to buy a car from their couch.

    The company last week launched its web sales portal, allowing potential owners to choose a model and spec, select their favourite colour, and place a deposit online.

    Once they’ve locked in their preferred spec and laid down a $100 deposit, potential buyers are contacted by a chosen dealer to complete the sale.

    Unlike some rival configurators, the Kia online sales setup doesn’t allow buyers to check stock at a particular dealership from their computers.

    “We actually launched it last week, and we’ve actually sold as of Tuesday [07/07] we’ve sold eight cars,” Kia Australia chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, told CarExpert.

    “We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well it went,” he said.

    Brands including Volkswagen, Audi, Toyota, and Mini are allowing potential buyers to spec and order their cars online.

    Although the industry has been preparing for web sales, lockdowns designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 has accelerated the move online.

    “Necessity is the mother of invention, and what’s happened in the world over the last six months… you’ve got to be up to date with technology and what people require, what makes people feel comfortable with your brand,” Mr Meredith said.

    “If people want to buy over the net, we can satisfy that.”

    The shift towards online sales has changed the role of dealers in the car sales process for a number of brands.

    Rather than courting and closing customers, they’re only involved in the later stages of an online sale. In some cases buyers will never set foot in a showroom.

    Of course, when more traditional customers stroll into a showroom they’re still greeted by a salesperson.

    Mr Meredith said Kia’s online sales tool has been designed alongside the brand’s national dealer council, which is supportive of the technology – especially given how hard it’s been to get people into showrooms this year.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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