Peugeot has launched an 'Order Online' platform which allows customers to buy a new car online.

Customers can trade in their old car and apply for finance using the new eCommerce website created in partnership with Summit, which went live last month after two years in planning and development.

"We know customers have always done a lot of research before such a big purchase, and we know more and more of this was being done online," Maria Rogers, head of digital marketing at Peugeot's parent company, PSA Group, told Essential Retail.

"So we were conscious we wanted our product presented in the best possible way," she added.

But the implementation of the project wasn't easy, admitted Rogers. "It was very complicated," she said. "Most people buy a car with finance and with an existing car to part exchange. So we had a comprehensive offering and it was an enormous integration, pulling information from products and finance – it has been a challenge from a technical perspective and for change management and process."

Now the website is up and running, it has been opened up to Peugeot's entire franchise network and nearly all dealerships have signed up to use the solution.

Rogers described how customers may start their car purchase journey online, configure the model they want and then pop into a dealership to test drive the car. Customers could then log-in at the dealership or finalise the purchase from the comfort of their own home. She also noted how customers may not even wish to take a test drive and could complete the purchase entirely online.

"We have a strong dealer network and what we were trying to do with Order Online is give customers the choices we think they want," she said, explaining how the website offers transparent pricing and breaks down monthly costs to help customers assess their finances. "With a part-exchange, cash deposit, you tailor the term and the mileage to suit you – you're getting a precise deal."

Rogers added: "Customer behaviour has changed, people are not seeing a car as a capital investment, but more of a monthly cost, which is a real game changer."

Since launching three weeks ago, Rogers said the response has been beyond expectations, with a vehicle ordered within the first 12 hours, despite a soft launch. "We were keen to launch quietly as it was a complicated project," she explained.

"I love technology and moving to digital is fantastic with the ability to support the customer and help them do what they want to do," said Rogers. "You've seen how Amazon has transformed retail and loads of things moving online and now it's time for automotive."

Hedley Aylott, CEO of Summit, added: "This is a platform that sets a new precedent for the automotive industry… This is truly the full end-to-end how to buy a car online."

"Consumer purchase habits have hugely changed in the past few years and it’s only right that the auto industry transforms to reflect this."