Automotive distribution and retailing research, insight, implementation

Our areas of expertise

Our areas of expertise

Our areas of expertise

For over 25 years, ICDP has been a thought-leader in how the automotive distribution model can be transformed to deliver benefits to the industry and customers.

Network development

Our analysis of all parts of the distribution network, including the role of importers and National Sales Companies, of sub-dealers, and our benchmarking of channel costs, have all been applied by a number of members in revisions to their own network strategies.

Channel performance and economics

The franchise business model produces only marginal positive returns overall.  Our aftersales forecast model has predicted reductions of 15%-30% in the aftersales business which cross-subsidises the sales side of dealerships.  Our financial modelling in this area has been used by several members in both the sales and aftersales area to adapt strategies and accelerate performance improvements in a shifting market.

Digital business

Increased data availability and usage of online channels and information sources by consumers is driving rapid change in how all players in the distribution sector go to market, with traditional players now co-existing with a growing number of new entrants and alternative channel formats.  Our research in this area is driven by a combination of cross-industry interviews, external perspectives and our own annual research with 2,000 consumers.  We have supplied relevant datasets to two manufacturers who been reviewing how their sales funnel now operates, as part of planning digital strategies in conjunction with their dealers.

New vehicle supply

Many new vehicle supply systems and processes in European manufacturers have their roots in ICDP research, benchmarking, and simulation, including our ‘3DayCar’, providing the capability to operate higher build-to-order rates and lower inventory levels, delivering improved unit profitability and lower working capital throughout the supply chain.  Over the past 20 years, a number of members have relied heavily on our benchmarks and process knowledge in this area as the basis of strategic and operational improvements.

New car margins and standards

Members have taken our network modelling tool that links margins, bonuses, standards and network and supply characteristics, and applied it to their own brands at a market level to identify options to set more appropriate terms by market to support their strategic objectives for market share and distribution chain viability.  The model allows options to be conceptualised with a clear and visual understanding of the interaction between eight key elements, which typically reflect a €2 billion annual expense for a volume manufacturer.

Dealer group development and performance

We have tracked the evolution of dealer groups across the major markets for many years, and regularly publish league tables of the largest players across the European and even global markets.  In particular, we have explored the drivers of dealer group performance, and especially the correlation between both scale and organisational structure, and successful performance.  We have worked with both manufacturers and suppliers to identify national and trans-national groups with positive business performance trends in a proactive approach to developing and renewing their networks and partnerships.

Used car remarketing

One member revised their used car remarketing strategy across Europe on the basis of ICDP research including providing exclusive access to manufacturer-owned and ex-lease cars and added new value-adding services and products including finance offers in order to differentiate their branded programme.

Aftermarket parts distribution

Two members fundamentally changed their physical distribution channels for aftermarket parts informed by ICDP research into lean parts distribution networks, dramatically reducing or eliminating dealer parts inventory, introducing overnight deliveries and reducing obsolescence.  We equally track developments in the independent parts distribution sector, and have worked with members to understand the changing approaches and needs of these players in the digital environment.

Mobility and the connected car

As the consumer take-up of ‘mobility’ options increases through pay-as-you-go access to cars through platforms operated both by the manufacturers and independently, the significance of this as a new channel is increasing for all players.  For one manufacturer who has identified this as a strategic priority, research by ICDP into the trends and financial viability of the mobility model has provided important data into their early stage research into the business opportunity.  Other members regularly seek ICDP advice on understanding the potential, and the pitfalls, of greater levels of connectivity to and from the car, and the customer.


Leveraging excellent relationships with regulators and lobby groups, ICDP have provided a clear and comprehensive business interpretation of the legal constraints and opportunities in successive rounds of the Block Exemption regulations governing franchise networks.  We position these in the business context of the challenges facing the sector in terms of network performance, contracts and standards.  Many members have found this complemented the information available to them from legal advisers and other trade bodies, and benefited from workshop discussions and informal networking with other members.  We worked with three members on the development of their new contracts for the new BER regime.  In a shifting environment, we have also broadened our regulatory focus to encompass emerging issues around the ‘connected car’ and telematics, data protection, consumer law, online channels and distance selling regulations, etc.

Lean dealer management

Two European dealer groups have relied heavily on their ICDP membership and our joint work with the Lean Enterprise Academy and Lean Auto Retail to improve dealer operations, applying ‘lean’ thinking to their sales, service and parts operations.  The work has also been incorporated by at least two manufacturers into management of their own networks, and interactions with their franchised networks.