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Motorpoint, a British chain of 12 car dealerships, has always prided itself on being nimble, agile, and entrepreneurial. When the British government locked down the company in April, it was able to put that hypothesis to the test.

It had long believed that launching a home delivery service could take up to a year. However, with COVID-19 impacting the industry, the company decided to launch it without a local area trail launch.

The result, according to Hayden Vokes, Head of Marketing, was Motorpoint’s first-mover advantage in a growing market. Now, the company has set its sights on being a digital leader in the home delivery of cars – the Amazon of the car market.

From its chain of 12 outlets, Motorpoint sells primarily new cars or those under the age of three years of age. Cars are a big-ticket purchase, as the crisis eroded consumer confidence, it was operating in a challenging marketplace.

Also, the company was concerned about the impact of home working – with people working and living under one roof, would it stop people from buying a new car? Longer-term, the company was immediately worried about the wider economic situation and the potential for mass redundancies, something that would heavily impact a consumer business like Motorpoint.

When the business reopened in June following two months of lockdown, the business was down significantly, although this was not as bad as it expected. Instead, it found several positives from its business model, such as the fact that it has always held stock meaning it is in a position to service customers. Plus, with more people staying at home, customers’, increased savings will go towards new cars.

It found several positives from its business model, such as the fact that it has always held stock meaning it is in a position to service customers

The response

The company was developing a working proposition around “home delivery” before COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, it fast-tracked the proposition into a nationwide launch. The launch was supported by a national TV campaign to tell more people you can get a car without visiting a forecourt and get it delivered straight to your home.

Home delivery has meant that Motorpoint has extended its reach beyond its 12 dealerships outlets. “We have gone from a regional car dealership to a national one, with our investment in tech bringing to market a proposition that is pretty unique in our sector,” Vokes said. “On a team level, COVID-19 has meant we all have more time for the ‘important not urgent’ things. Rather than working at an operational level dealing with the day-to-day. We have more time, more focus, and more opportunity to look at the business strategically.”

We have gone from a regional car dealership to a national one, with our investment in tech bringing to market a proposition that is pretty unique in our sector

The impact

The company survived the two-month lockdown, launching the home delivery product in June. It is now thinking about how it can move from a car business with branches to a digital-first business, selling cars nationwide with a complete online car buying experience.

Having furloughed its staff during the lockdown, around 70 per cent are now back working.

The outlook

With its nationwide proposition, the company is now keen to break into the London market and is also examining a foray into Bristol, Cardiff, and Nottingham.

“Our biggest worry right now is slipping into the old ways, we’ve learnt a lot during this period, and we’re keen we maintain this strategic thinking, agile ways of working, and focus on innovation,” Vokes says.

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