Maruti plans to convert its website into vehicle financing platform

This will help Maruti turn the website into a single-window channel for customers through which they can select the car, find dealers and arrange financing.

India’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL), is focused on getting 50 per cent of its customers’ car-financing transactions executed through its Smart Finance platform by next year.

Shashank Srivastava, executive director-sales, MSIL, said this will help the company turn its website into a single-window channel through which customers can select their models, find dealers, and arrange financing. He said there is a likelihood that 100 per cent of its customers availing of financing will take it through Smart Finance.

To date, the company has disbursed Rs 6,500-crore loans via Smart Finance to around 100,000 customers, accounting for 28 per cent of all finance-based car-purchase transactions for the company.

Srivastava said vehicle finance is an area where customers still have to move out of the company’s existing digital platforms.

With the introduction of the new platform, the enquiry-to-sales conversion is likely to improve.

He said the company witnessed a trend which saw customers comparing interest rates on third-party platforms.

“This was leading to a loss of conversion rate for us, given that customers were occasionally moving to another manufacturer.

“To check that, we will provide flat-out financing options on our own website,” he said.

The company has been able to sign up 15 banks and non-banking financial companies, including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, IndusInd Bank, Cholamandalam Finance, AU Small Finance Bank, Mahindra Finance, and Kotak Mahindra Prime, for the service.

Srivastava said banks, initially hesitant to make their product visible on the company’s platform, have now realised the merits of being present on the website of India’s largest passenger carmaker.

More eyeballs will only increase their chances of customer acquisition, while lowering costs, he said.

“The company has a conversion rate of around 12-13 per cent.

“For this reason, a large number of prospective buyers visiting our website will facilitate banks to market their products better,” he added.

As the government announced lockdown last year to rein in the Covid-19 pandemic, MSIL decided to digitise its customer-facing infrastructure for those disinclined to showroom visits.

“We have been able to completely digitise 24 of the 26 steps in the car-purchase journey, except test driving and financing.

“For financing, the customer had to make repeat journeys to get it cleared,” he said.

With 80 per cent of cars in India being bought using easy financing options, MSIL had launched its online car financing solution Smart Finance towards the end of last year, amid increasing demand for digital services.

Initially, the service was available for Nexa channel customers, accounting for roughly 20 per cent of the company’s entire sales.

This was expanded to all customers across India in July this year.

Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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