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Linn Academy 2020 On-Demand: The Ford story - how the automotive industry embraced ecommerce

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In this interview with Nigel Brackenbury, VP Customer Service Ops at Ford Motor Company, we dive into three key areas - the opportunities that come with selling direct to consumer, the challenges faced by brands in the changing retail landscape and the untapped potential of China.

In this session, hear how:

  • Ford is adopting ecommerce
  • The company is facing several megatrends at the same time
  • Its business is transforming in response
  • The impact of COVID-19 and how it’s recovering
  • Lessons from China
  • The importance of ecommerce and digitisation over the next decade

In an interview with Warren Spokes at Linn Academy 2020, Nigel Brackenbury explained that ecommerce is one of three megatrends impacting the automotive industry at the same time and Ford was at the early stages of ecommerce adoption.

Three megatrends impacting the automotive industry

“It’s beginning to impact our industry, but we are at the early stages. Ecommerce is one of two or three megatrends coming to our industry at the same time,” said Brackenbury. “We’ve got digitisation and connectivity coming to our vehicles; electrification is growing each month and ecommerce is taking place as well. Each trend on its own is significant but as whole it’s a huge transformation. We need to leverage all of those as part of our business transformation.”

The capability of online however had allowed the business to rapidly adapt to the pandemic, introducing options previously introduced in China such as touch-free servicing. With this Ford moved the process of booking and dealing with car servicing online, with the vehicle delivered back to the customer cleaned and sanitised at the end of the process. “We quickly launched that across all markets,” said Brackenbury. “Take-up varied but some of the more digital markets saw something like 25% customers choosing to do that during lockdown,” he said.

Ecommerce expected to be embedded in the business within 10 years

Although ecommerce may be a small part of the business currently within 10 years Brackenbury said he expected it to be embedded within the business. “The sort of digital enablement we talked about earlier on will be absolutely pervasive in everything that we do ten years from now,” he said.

Ford will continue to accelerate its business, investing in mobility, connected services, development of the company’s Ford Pass app as well as its websites. “Customers in all industries want to have the closest connection possible to a brand or service they are looking to buy. Ecommerce, digitisation etc enables that,” he said.

He also said that China, where he spent four years with Ford, has lots to teach. “They are very nimble and moving very fast. There is a lot to learn,” he said.

Ultimately however, he said the business was concentrating on growing capability for digital and ecommerce development, developing both skills and infrastructure. “We are bringing talent from outside the company and also working with suppliers that have experience and nimbleness to help us move quickly at the pace we need to as well.”

Watch the on-demand webinar now

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