Just a few weeks ago Škoda Auto became a pioneer in the online sale of cars. The first European e-shop in which you can really buy a car online was created by Škoda Auto in cooperation with Cleverlance. This was definitely not an easy job – even just the integration into other systems was quite a challenge.
If you were ever involved in a project of this magnitude, then you know that not everything always goes according to plan. Being able to order a new Škoda car with just a click of your mouse is undoubtedly a great success of the joint effort of the developers and is a break-through moment on the European car market. While this is something many car manufacturers can only dream about, Škoda Auto managed to make this dream come true.
The Škoda Online platform has access to stocks, meaning that the configuration that the customer chooses, i.e., the type, color and equipment, will be in the actual car that they are going to pick up – perhaps as early as in two weeks. The cars are provided via operating lease, i.e., they are not sold but in fact leased in this globally popular way. The purchase of a car as we know it from car dealerships will be the next development step of online sale. Since the system's launch in December, it became clear that the online shop customers are in average 15 years younger than traditional clients of Škoda. Younger customers do a lot of things differently and they want to do everything online, including buying a car.
The offered vehicles need to be reserved while the order is being created, reservations made by clients who are not interested in finalizing the purchase, however, must not block all the stock reserves. Personal delivery of the vehicle to the client’s home is also available, including the option to choose the date of pick-up or delivery.
One of the obstacles that needed to be overcome was integration into the system of orders and vehicle stocks. All strict requirements of Škoda Auto on security, performance and infrastructure, which are significantly above the usual standards, have been met. With regards to these requirements of Škoda Auto it was necessary to make changes to the payment gate, and before the online sale launched it was also necessary to make technical and procedural adjustments on both sides of the interface. The integration into all systems of the huge concern then went surprisingly smoothly.
Not only the technical aspects of the e-shop as such but also the shift in the sales philosophy are quite ground-breaking. Younger people are now able to buy a car in a familiar environment that they trust. Škoda is not afraid of innovations and even leads the way for others to follow, making the internet a full-fledged sales channel for their products. Let go of your reservations and doubts, the dream of a whole generation of developers and dealers have finally come true and now you can truly say that you can buy everything online, from socks to a car.
With one click of your mouse you can read an interesting article, confirm a friendship request or buy a car. This sounds revolutionary and if you didn’t know how many thousands of work-hours digital specialists spent on the project, at first glance Škoda Online looks like just another modern website, easy to navigate and use. The e-shop itself, however, is far from trivial and offers an actual tool to select the parameters of your real car, which you can then order and buy. A new standard has been set and it will take the competitors a substantial amount of time to catch up.
Of course the buyers can’t see all the sweat and tears the developers put into the final product. For them, the system is just a tool that makes it easyer to buy a new car. You don’t have to haggle with the dealer, you can take advantage of the access to the stock and pre-configured variants. The system only offers actually available cars that can be picked up or delivered to your home, often already in only 14 days.
The specifications for Cleverlance, who implemented the system, have been fine-tuned to the very last moment and in the first third of the project implementation, the technology and required architecture changed completely. Despite these obstacles, our team, which implemented the half-finished concept from Brno to České Budějovice and back, managed to complete the project in a record-breaking three and half months. No, that's not a typo. It really just took a few months, not years.
I’m not going to bore you with technical details of this ground-breaking project as not everyone is tech-savvy enough to understand all the nuances of the implemented system. It’s not important, anyway. What’s important is that the customers can quickly and intuitively learn how to use the web and can rest assured that they are linked to the stocks and show what actually is available for Škoda to complete the order, i.e., the customer’s car. The best kind of innovation is when the customers can directly see the final result.