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New car subscription software Blinker sees demand skyrocket in lockdown
Paul Higgins and Michael Higgins, founders of Blinker
Tue 19 May 2020 - 6:49 amSmall Business
Car dealers looking to pivot their businesses during the COVID-19 lockdown have turned to car subscription software provider Blinker to future-proof their business models. The provider has seen a 52% increase in enquiries from car dealerships looking to introduce subscription during the shutdown.
Founded by brothers Michael and Paul Higgins just last year, Blinker is an Australian car subscription software provider. The idea for Blinker was born from their other company, HelloCars.
Michael and Paul first founded HelloCars, Australia’s first online-only car dealership, in 2015, which was a platform for buying and selling preloved cars.
Blinker was firstly their in-house built software for managing their subscription model. The brothers saw an opportunity to extend this software to other car dealerships, and this opportunity has fully been grasped with the COVID-19 lockdown.
Essentially, it is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for car dealerships, resellers, and manufacturers, to offer their own vehicle subscription services to customers. The end-to-end platform provides dealerships with “subscription in a box,” including the software, training and services needed to offer car subscription to customers simply and easily.
The idea is that customers can then browse through the website, choose the car they want and subscribe online.
Why have car subscriptions become so popular in lockdown?
Subscription models are becoming more and more popular, and a part of our everyday life – think Netflix, Spotify or HelloFresh for example. This is now extending across all industries, much like the sharing economy, which has also recently come about in the car industry with the likes of Popcar.
Car dealers and OEMs around the country are experiencing a decrease in sales as a result of social distancing regulations put in place by the government. This has resulted in dealerships looking at new ways to improve cash flow to survive through this crisis – enter: subscription services.
The car subscription software allows dealers to future-proof their business models, according to Blinker, as well as increase their cash flow.
The main appeal of car dealers offering subscriptions, from the point of view of the consumers, is the flexibility. In these times of uncertainty economically, it also provides an opportunity to avoid large car loans.
Will the car pivot last?
Much like other digital pivots and new ways of working, people are asking whether these changes and demands across industries will continue after lockdown.
Blinker Managing Director, Michael Higgins, says yes to this one. He believes that the pivot toward subscription for the car industry will likely remain a fixture for dealerships even after the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for organisations to adapt to the digital environment, and the car industry is not immune. Now more than ever, it’s imperative for dealerships to future-proof their business models, and subscription provides that opportunity in a convenient and streamlined package.”
“We expect that even after this pandemic is over, consumers will be hesitant or unable to take on car loans, but dealers will continue to receive a weekly stream of revenue through subscriptions. I like to say that car dealerships should look at heading toward a similar structure to real estate agencies; sales makes the money but property management pays the bills,” he said.
The founding brothers managed to secure a partnership for Blinker with industry giants Titan DMS and Dealer Solutions, all within the same year of launching the service.
Titan DMS became the first distributor for the platform in the Australian market, offering the subscription solution to car dealerships around the country. Dealer Solutions – which is part of Cox Automotive, the world’s largest automotive service organisation – was Blinker’s first integrated website partner, offering the subscription to its network of dealers currently using Dealer Solutions as their preferred website partner.
The Titan DMS and Dealer Solutions networks combined provide Blinker with access to over 1,000 dealers nationally.