Keynote: Lessons in digital retailing from Rockar

Martin Sewell, managing director, Rockar

After almost four years since Rockar opened its store at Bluewater, Kent, Martin shares some of the insights and lessons the company has learned as it formulated a genuinely new way for consumers to buy cars. Whilst Hyundai moves forward with the shopping centre concept and Rockar builds on its legacy with Jaguar Land Rover and Mitsubishi Motors, Martin will discuss the company’s ideas as it seeks to take its innovative strategy even further with its partnership with High Street store Next. Exploring the different ways consumers are now undertaking the car purchase journey including the desire for a physical presence along with digital interaction and the ability to transact online, Sewell draws on Rockar’s extensive data which provides an insight into the mind of today’s changing car buyer and illustrates how the automotive retail model can evolve to meet consumer demands.

Preparing for the EV tipping point

Tom Callow, director of communication and strategy, Chargemaster

The curve of EV adoption will continue to increase for at least the next two decades with 140,000 EVs on the road today and over 1 million predicted by 2022. The public charging network will grow from around 14,000 charging points today to around 100,000 in the same period. Dealers will need to adapt sales and service processes to accommodate the growing band of EV customers from educating their sales teams to addressing the issue of the reduced servicing EVs require and identifying new revenue streams. This session charts the rise of the EV and outlines the growing trend and acceptance of EV driving as well as exploring how dealers need to adapt.

Digital advances and tech trends impacting automotive retail over the next decade

Hamel Soni, head of automotive, Google

With digital and tech advances continually influencing consumer behaviour and attitudes towards car buying and, more importantly, where and how purchases are made, this session draws on latest research from Google and takes a peek into the next decade of automotive retail.  Research undertaken last year reinforces the car buyer’s reliance on the physical dealership when finalising their purchase but also highlights some varying experiences on-site compared to often slick and impressive engagements online. However, the session also comes with a warning that increasingly more consumers will be comfortable transacting online and dealers need to be ready to facilitate those car buyers. Soni will also take a closer look at other influences including disruptors impacting and accelerating the pace of change.

Threats and opportunities in an evolving automotive retail environment

Justin Benson, head of automotive, KPMG

Discussing findings from KPMG’s latest report Global Automotive Executive Survey 2018 including its prediction that half of UK car dealerships will close by 2025, far from sounding the death knell for dealers, this session highlights the threats and the opportunities of a changing automotive retail landscape. From adapting processes to online transactions to meeting motorists’ changing attitudes to ownership, Benson delves into the detail of trends which will impact how dealers will do business in the not too distant future. Electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, Mobility as a Service (MaaS), new business structures and the rise of disruptors driven by new technology are among the areas Benson will explore. But whilst some degree of uncertainty is inevitable, Benson will show how it is also an exciting time and how a changing retail environment can signpost a new direction to future success.

Digital developments transforming dealer transactions and the customer experience

Jason Turner, head of franchise development, Barclays Partner Finance

Digital innovation and technological developments are enabling dealers to deliver an improved customer experience including how and when they transact which places customers in control of significant aspects of the buying process. This session explores how digital is creating new ways for dealers to manage finance transactions including point of sale funding and online payments. Whilst compliance is essential, Turner highlights how advances in technology have resulted in higher levels of transparency, openness and is now creating a seamless purchase process. Digital advances mean dealers can balance a great customer outcome with a friction-free journey and puts customers where they want to be – in the driving seat.

Consumer car buying trends in 2018

Karen Hilton, Commercial Director, carwow

Five major trends in consumer behaviour when searching for and deciding on their next new car will come under the microscope in this session. Covering transient consumers, the desire for unbiased advice, the impact of politics, diesel concerns and the demand for immediate responses, Hilton will draw on latest carwow research and explore these trends in greater detail and what it means for dealers. The session will also delve into carwow’s data which reveals a host of buying habits including car buyers’ perceptions when purchasing below list and their subsequent willingness to spend on accessories.


Conference welcome