Cologne, Germany – UK tire traders are clear leaders while their counterparts in France lag far behind in the field of digital transformation, according to a study by the Institut für Handelsforschung Cologne GmbH (IFH).
These are the somewhat surprising findings of an IFH telephone survey of workshops and specialist tire dealers in five core markets – including also Germany, Italy and Poland.
“The UK sees the most opportunities and wants to harness them, but is also aware of the challenges,” said Dr Ralf Deckers, a division manager at the Cologne-based firm.
“By contrast, France seems to be rather oblivious of the changes due to digitalisation,” the IFH expert added in a presentation of the study findings at a 10 Oct press conference for The Tire Cologne 2020 expo.
In his presentation, Deckers showed that, overall, 70% of firms plan to expand their digital activities, including 93% in the UK, 87% Italy, 69% Poland, 53% in Germany and just 46% in France.
Meanwhile, 51% of respondents across the five countries said the saw ‘digitalisation as an opportunity’ – 65% of UK firms, compared to 53% in Italy, 48% in France, 47% in Germany and 42% Poland.
“Assistance systems have arrived in everyday life in the workshop for some companies, especially in Germany and the UK,” commented Deckers.
“The connected car is also highly relevant in the UK as well, whereas RFID seems to be of greater relevance in France,” he said.
Respondents from Poland and Germany reported having the greatest concerns about finding sufficient new staff in the future.
In the UK, however, human resources problems are not expected in the near future, according to Deckers.
Indeed, only 4% of UK respondents expected difficulties in recruiting suitably skilled staff. This compared to 61% in Poland, 52% in Germany, 40% in France and 23% in Italy.
As a follow-up to the study, IFH will soon offer the tire trade the possibility to benchmark itself and its service profile against the European average.
This "Fit for Future" test facility will be made available via website of The Tire Cologne tire trade expo, being held 9-12 June 2020, said the presenter.
Test participants will receive a comparative analysis of their performance along with possible approaches to solutions for the further development of their own businesses, Deckers concluded.