'Virtual showrooms, live online selling': vehicle importers tap digital innovations to boost sales

Liza Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 11 2020 02:34 PM

Hyundai exhibit at the Manila International Auto Show. Handout.

MANILA - Automakers and dealers tapped digital innovations, enhancing "virtual showrooms" and "online selling strategies" to bring its vehicles to the public.
The Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. (AVID), made up of 21 companies representing 26 global brands said members have gone "fully digital" to reach consumers.
“The entire industry has undergone a rapid digital transformation to meet the evolving needs and changing behaviors of consumers in the new normal. The change that would have taken years was fast-tracked and compressed in a matter of months,” said Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, president of the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) and Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc.

“Disruptive selling” tactics were also used to fight the sales slump caused by the pandemic, with some automakers and dealers offering extraordinary price cuts on certain models and “buy one, take one” promotions to encourage buyers.

“Once-in-a lifetime promos are being offered as a way of boosting consumer confidence by giving best value-for-money deals in these pandemic times,” Perez-Agudo said.

The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns caused a 50 percent drop in auto sales for the first 7 months of the year, according to AVID.

Public transport was suspended during the height of the lockdowns, while most at the private sector enforced a work from home arrangement with employees to curb the spread of the virus.
Despite the slow sales turnout, vehicle importers think "the worst is over" and digital adoption is key to achieve growth.

“The industry is recovering. The Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. has bounced back strong with a 200 percent increase in sales in June versus May and another 40 percent growth in July versus June. We aim to sustain this momentum for the rest of the year on the road to a better normal,” Perez-Agudo added.

Demand for passenger cars and subcompact SUVs have been on an upward trend, so are sales of small utility trucks and vans, “underscoring the importance of transport and logistics in putting the Philippine economy back on track,” she said.

“We welcome policies that improve the ease of doing business to further open opportunities for investment, create jobs for our workers, and provide reliable and affordable mobility for Filipinos… These enabling policies will help instead of restrictive ones such as the proposed ‘safeguard’ measures on imported vehicles. The proposal to penalize auto imports will not trigger investments nor will it address pressing issues regarding regional competitiveness of our local manufacturing sector,” Perez-Agudo added.